Police foil knife attack near Tunis synagogue: ministry

A man attempted to stab police on patrol near a synagogue in the Tunisian capital on Tuesday before they overpowered and arrested him, the interior ministry said.

A 45-year-old suspect is accused of trying to attack a pair of police officers in the late morning attack, the ministry said in a statement.

The police managed to stop and arrest the alleged assailant before he was handed over to anti-terror security services. The officers escaped unharmed.

Security was beefed up in the area surrounding the synagogue following the attack.

The suspect was from Ettadhamen, an impoverished area in the Tunis suburbs, national security spokesperson Walid Ben Hkima said.

An investigation has been launched to determine the motive for the attack and any possible links to extremist groups.

Tunisia has been under a state of emergency since a series of jihadist attacks in the country in 2015, although the security situation has improved significantly in the past two years.

Thousands of people took part in a Jewish pilgrimage this month to the Tunisian island of Djerba, home to Africa's oldest synagogue, marking a resurgence for the community after years of insecurity.

But while extremist groups in Tunisia have been weakened, the country continues to suffer from attacks.

In November, two police officers were stabbed in front of parliament by a young Tunisian who authorities believe had been radicalised. One of the officers later died from his wounds.

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