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Tunisia government arrests suspected terrorists

[JURIST] Tunisia's Interior Ministry [government website, in French] announced on Wednesday the national police arrested eight suspected terrorists who entered the north-African country from neighboring Libya. It iss believed the terrorists received weapons and explosives training in Libya, and Tunisian Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui stated [Reuters report]: "This group of eight extremists came from Libya ... planning to assassinate security officials and mount attacks against government institutions." Tunisia is viewed as a model for Arab nations [AP report] seeking democratic reform. The country has bolstered security along its eastern border with Libya, largely in response to the threat posed by the terrorist group Ansar al-Shariah [CNN backgrounder], based in Libya and Tunsia. In August 2013 Tunisia officially declared [BBC report] Ansar al-Sharia a terrorist group and the Islamist group was blamed for inciting an attack on the US embassy in the capitol city Tunis in 2012, which killed four people including a US ambassador.

Tunisia has faced political turmoil since former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] left office amid nationwide protests in 2011, but 2014 has marked significant political reform and international support for the African country. Earlier this month the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly [official website, in Arabic] passed a new law enacting sweeping electoral reforms. The passage of the law allows authorities to set the country's first election since the ouster of Ben Ali. In February, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] encouraged [JURIST report] Tunisian authorities to quash the sentences of anyone convicted under laws that violate human rights, in celebration of the country's new constitution. In late January Tunisia's Parliament passed [JURIST report] a new constitution, its first since the removal of Ben Ali. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] commended [UN News Centre report] the country's democratic transition, stating his belief that Tunisia's example could serve as a model to other peoples seeking reforms. At the start of the year, the Tunisian Parliament rejected Islam [JURIST report] as the main source of law for the country in a vote to establish a new constitution.

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