Tunisian forces have arrested two suspected members of al Qaeda near the Libyan border.
The duo, an Algerian and a Libyan, were in possession of explosives belt and several bombs. They have also led authorities to weapons which are stashed in the mountains.
Interior Minister Habib Essid confirmed the arrest of two people and identified the Algerian as Abou Muslum, 31, and the Libyan as 32-year-old Abou Batine. But no more details of who they might be working for were given.
The men were detained in Nekrif, a town in the southern region of the country-- 80 miles (130 km) from the Libyan border, officials said.
One of the suspects threw a bomb at the officers who were trying to arrest them but it failed to ignite, said a Tunisian official news agency.
Interrogations of the men led to the discovery of a weapons' hide-out in the mountains of southern Tunisia, the ministry said in a statement. The weapons included, “Kalashikov rifles, a crude bomb and munitions, it said.
Arab officials have issued a warning that al Qaeda could be exploiting the Libyan conflict to acquire weapons and smuggle them into other countries.
This indicates that Tunisia could be targeted by the Al-Qaeda networks, given the state of security in the country, said Slah Jorchi, a political scientist.
A senior security official in Algeria told Reuters that, “last month there were signs of al Qaeda,” working to acquire arms to smuggle them to northern Mali.