TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) —
Tunisia paid homage Saturday to a police officer killed and five others injured in a double suicide bombing outside the U.S. Embassy.
No one has claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack, set off by two attackers on a motorcycle packed with explosives, and authorities are refusing to name the bombers while the investigation continues.
Tunisia has a largely moderate population but has struggled against Islamic extremism as it has built a new democracy in recent years, and authorities quickly labeled it a terrorist attack. The president vowed tougher laws to combat terrorism and to keep disillusioned youth from turning to extremist violence.
A funeral was held Saturday for the slain police officer, a 52-year-old father of three, before a large crowd of security officials and family and friends.
Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh visited the officer’s home, and President Kais Saied visited injured officers.
U.S. Ambassador Donald Blome said “we are outraged by the attack,” and thanked Tunisian security forces for keeping the embassy secure and their rapid response.
“We reaffirm our commitment to our longstanding friendship with Tunisia and our alliance with them against the scourge of terrorism,” he said in a statement.
Asked about the attackers’ identities, the spokesman for the anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office, Sofiane Selliti, told The Associated Press, “We know them, but the interest of the investigation requires us not to disclose their identities.”
Local media released the names and said the two men had served prison terms for terrorism-related crimes but were later released. The lawyer for one of them told Wataniya state television that his client had been sentenced for a Facebook post “with religious overtones.” The lawyer warned that there are as many as 25,000 young people facing legal trouble for similar reasons.
The Tunis Stock Exchange recorded a sharp drop on Friday following the attack, a new blow to the North African country’s economy, which has struggled since protesters overthrew their autocratic president in 2011 and set in motion the Arab Spring democratic uprisings.