TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Two suicide bombers blew themselves up near the U.S. Embassy in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, Friday, wounding five police officers, the Interior Ministry said.
A ministry statement said the attackers both died. A civilian was slightly injured. One of the five injured police officers was in a critical condition, according to a lawmaker.
Security units were placed on a state of maximum alert, the ministry said. Hundreds of police swarmed around the scene and sharpshooters were visible on the roofs of nearby buildings.
Lawmaker Yosri Dali, head of the armed forces and security commission, confirmed eyewitness reports that the attackers were on a motorcycle. He said in an interview with Radio Mosaique that they blew themselves up when a police patrol stopped them to ask where they were going.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
The lawmaker said that one of the injured police officers was in critical condition. The ministry statement said the patrolling officers suffered varying degrees of injuries.
The embassy, which was stormed by a crowd of hundreds in 2012, put an advisory on its web site telling people to “avoid the area.” Phones at the embassy went unanswered.
A flag in the U.S. Embassy compound, which is surrounded by walls, could be seen fluttering above the attack scene.
Police taped off the area around the site, which was littered with charred debris. Scientific police could be seen sorting through remnants left by the attack.
Dozens of people have been killed in multiple attacks by Islamic extremists in Tunisia, notably in 2015 when the famed Bardo Museum outside the capital and a luxury beach hotel were attacked.
The U.S. Embassy, located in a residential area on the outskirts of Tunis, was attacked in 2012 along with a nearby American school by crowds of hundreds of people who were angered by an anti-Muslim film produced in the United States. Security forces killed four people during an attack in which the American flag was torn down and replaced with an Islamic flag,
Since the fall of Tunisia's hard-line secular dictatorship in January 2011, Salafists have increasingly come into the open.
This story has been corrected to show that five police officers were injured, not killed.