Tunisia soldier opens fire on comrades near Parliament

Tunisian soldiers and policemen stand guard outside the Bouchoucha army barracks in Tunis on May 25, 2015 after a soldier opened fire at his colleagues. -- PHOTO: AFP
Tunisian soldiers and policemen stand guard outside the Bouchoucha army barracks in Tunis on May 25, 2015 after a soldier opened fire at his colleagues. -- PHOTO: AFP

TUNIS (Reuters/AFP) – A Tunisian soldier opened fire on colleagues at a military base in the capital Tunis on Monday, killing seven and wounding 10 more before being shot dead himself, the Tunisian authorities said.

It was not immediately clear what had triggered the shooting at the Bouchoucha base in Tunis, but it caused alarm in a capital city still on edge after an attack in March by Islamist gunmen on the Bardo national museum.

Two military helicopters hovered overhead as the police searched a nearby mosque and cars travelling on the main road between Bardo and the base. A local school was evacuated after the shooting started at the base, which is not far from the Bardo area.

The rampage “caused the deaths of seven soldiers and also of the shooter". "Ten soldiers were wounded, and one is in a serious condition,” Defence Ministry spokesman Belhassen Oueslati said at a news conference, adding that the shooter had family and psychological problems.

Mr Oueslati added: "The armed forces took control of the situation after firing on the soldier."

The gunman was shot dead by his colleagues, state news agency TAP reported, citing medical sources. An army colonel was among the victims, a security source said.

Tunisian forces have been carrying out operations against Islamist fighters since March when two gunmen opened fire on tourists at the Bardo museum, killing 21 foreigners in the worst attack in Tunisia in more than a decade.Since its 2011 uprising against autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has been spared the worst chaos that neighbouring countries experienced after the “Arab Spring”. But some Islamist hardliners have turned to violence.