Confusion still surrounds the identity of raiders who attacked army installations in the Western Tunisian border town of Gafsa at the weekend.
GV Armed troops stopping lorry on road to Gafsa
SV Soldier checking driver's papers (2 shots)
CU Truck leaving
GV Another vehicle is stopped, and leaves checkpoint (2 shots)
GV Street scenes in village
CU Road sign
GV PAN Border area
SV Armed police controlling traffic
Tunisian opposition groups have appealed to the government to be lenient in the enforcement of order in Gafsa, and a Tunisian newspaper reports that raiders arrested in the weekend attack will be tried before a State Security court. It's thought the raid commemorated a demonstration a year ago by dissident socialist trade unionists in Tunis. On that occasion some were killed during a struggle between demonstrators and national guards.
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Background: Confusion still surrounds the identity of raiders who attacked army installations in the Western Tunisian border town of Gafsa at the weekend. Reports from various news sources have estimated that between 30 and 300 guerrillas were involved. One report claims they were Libyan, while another claims they were left-wing Tunisian commandoes opposing the one-party administration of President Habib Bourguiba. Following Saturday night's (26 January) attack the army had taken control of the town.
SYNOPSIS: The army has set up roadblocks on all roads leading to Gafsa. Strangers are being stopped by the security forces and checked. In Gafsa itself, a curfew has been imposed from 6 o'clock in the evening to dawn. The town is reported calm, with military forces patrolling and guarding the streets. Troops normally stationed in Gafsa were away at the nearby town of Nefta at the time of the attack. President Bourguiba was there to open a new airfield, but when news of the attack emerged all troops were recalled to Gafsa. The President flew out by helicopter.
The attack in Gafsa lasted for seven hours and some reports put the number of deaths at 20, with more wounded. The raiders attacked army and national guard barracks. Reports suggest the armed forces retaliated forcefully in a bloody gun battle, which defeated the raiders.