Red Armbands for Tunisia Police after 'Islamist' Attack

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Tunisia's security forces union called on its members to wear red armbands for three days starting Monday, in protest against a suspected Islamist attack on a police officer.

Wissam Ben Slimane, the security chief of the Tunis suburb Manouba, told state television he was attacked by a hatchet-wielding assailant overnight Saturday to Sunday.

Speaking from his hospital bed where he is recovering from a cut to the head, the officer said the attack took place as policemen tried to stop a fight between illegal alcohol sellers and a group of Salafist Islamists in Manouba.

"The attacker is still on the run and an investigation is underway to determine those responsible and arrest them," interior ministry spokesman Khaled Tarrouche told AFP.

"The interior ministry is determined to follow up the excesses committed by these groups who wish to take the place of the state," he added, alluding to the radical Islamist groups.

The national security forces union released a statement denouncing the attack on Slimane and called on the civil society ministry to "support the security forces and condemn acts of violence committed against security agents."

Since the Tunisian revolution in January last year that ousted former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, radical Islamists have carried out a number of attacks in the country, including against security forces and on cultural events.

An Salafist-led attack on the US embassy in September resulted in four people being killed and dozens wounded, amid worldwide demonstrations against an anti-Islam film produced in the United States.

The Tunisian government, led by the Islamist Ennahda party, is accused by the opposition of complacency in the face of Salafist groups.

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