Agence France Presse
TUNIS: About 1,000 people protested in central Tunis Sunday against allowing Tunisians who had fought with militants abroad back into the country.
Some 3,000 Tunisians have joined the ranks of militant groups fighting in neighboring Libya, as well as in Syria and Iraq, according to officials. The United Nations puts the figure at 5,000.
With Daesh (ISIS) losing its main Libyan stronghold of Sirte and the militants under pressure in Syria and Iraq, there has been growing concern in Tunisia that many will return to the country.
Protesters at Sunday’s rally – many wrapped in Tunisians flags – shouted “No to returning terrorists!” and “All Tunisians against terrorism!”
“Tunisians need to be reassured by a real political will that makes it clear these criminals won’t be allowed to return,” said one of the protesters, 33-year-old civil servant Shahnez Mili.
Tunisian authorities have arrested several dozen alleged militants in a growing crackdown on extremists in recent weeks.
Authorities stepped up their efforts after Tunisian Anis Amri was identified as the primary suspect in last month’s attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12.
Amri was shot dead by police in the Italian city of Milan four days after the attack, which was claimed by Daesh.
Separately, a suspected militant held in eastern Libya told a local television channel late Saturday that two Tunisian journalists who went missing in 2014 were killed by Daesh.
Daesh had claimed in January 2015 to have executed blogger Sofiene Chourabi and photographer Nadhir Ktari but later the same year the Tunisian government said it had evidence the pair were still alive.
The prisoner, identified as Libyan Abderrazek Nassef Abderrazek Ali, told the Al-Hadath Al-Libya channel that he had witnessed the pair being executed in a forest outside the eastern town of Derna, which was then under Daesh control.
He said the two journalists had been captured at a Daesh roadblock between the towns of Ajdabiya and Labraq and then taken to Derna.
The militant also said that a Daesh court had ordered them killed on the basis of testimony from Tunisian militants.
Relatives of the two journalists conducted a long campaign for information from the Tunisian government on the fate of their loved ones.
Since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has been battling an Islamist militant movement that has killed dozens of soldiers and police officers as well as civilians including 59 foreign tourists.