, TUNIS, October 23- Tunisian police were exchanging gunfire Thursday with armed “terrorists” who had taken refuge in a town a few kilometres (miles) from the capital, the interior ministry said.
“Security forces have surrounded a house in Oued Ellil harbouring terrorists and exchanges of gunfire are ongoing,” spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui told local radio, after security was beefed up ahead of Tunisia’s parliamentary election on Sunday.
Some members of the security forces had been wounded in the gunfight, Aroui told AFP in a brief statement, refusing to provide further details.
Aroui told Mosaique FM radio that police had also clashed earlier Thursday with two “terrorists” in the city of Kebili about 500 kilometres (300 miles) south of Tunis.
The suspects were arrested after killing a private security guard in the gunfight, he said.
They had been “preparing operations in the area,” Aroui said, adding that two Kalashnikov assault rifles were seized.
Tunisia has increased security ahead of Sunday’s vote, seen as crucial to restoring stability in the North African nation, the cradle of the Arab Spring revolutionary movements.
Since the 2011 uprising that ousted veteran strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has seen a proliferation of Islamists suppressed under the former autocratic president and the emergence of militant groups.
The jihadists have been blamed for a wave of attacks, including last year’s assassination of two leftist politicians whose murders plunged the country into a protracted political crisis.