Tunisia's long battle with terrorism

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The authorities in Tunisia have announced that 21 people, including 20 foreign tourists, were killed by three gunmen in their attack on the Bardo museum in the capital Tunis on Wednesday, for which Islamic State has claimed responsibility. The shootings happened just as the nearby Tunisian parliament was debating proposed new anti-terrorism legislation, and there is speculation that the assembly was the gunmen’s initial target. Islamist groups have blighted the small North African country’s fragile transition to democracy since the 2011 revolution that toppled the iron-fisted regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, mounting political assassinations and attacks on the military. But, as Mediapart’s Arab affairs correspondent Pierre Puchot reports, Islamist terror groups have been active in Tunisia for decades, during the dictatorial regimes of both Ben Ali and his predecessor Habib Bourgiba, and the challenge now for the fledgling democracy is to find effective means to combat them without returning to the liberticidal practices of the past.  

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According to official estimates reported by the Tunisian authorities, between 3,000 and 4,000 nationals have joined the jihadist networks in Syria and Iraq, of who 500 have returned to the country.