Tunisia says 2 jihadists blow themselves up in security raid

A member of the Tunisian security forces stands guard at the site of a suicide attack in the capital Tunis on October 29, 2018 (AFP Photo/FETHI BELAID) (AFP/File)

Tunis (AFP) - Two alleged jihadists blew themselves up Thursday during an early morning raid by Tunisian security forces on a house in the central region of Sidi Bouzid, the interior ministry said.

Acting on a tip off, "police units raided a house in the Jelma area... and two terrorists blew themselves up with explosive belts", national security spokesman Walid Hkima told AFP.

A police officer was wounded during a heavy exchange of fire between the two sides, he added, without specifying how many people were holed up in the house.

The interior ministry said the two suspects were "among the most dangerous terrorists" wanted by police since December 12.

They belonged to an offshoot of Jund al-Khilafa -- an affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group -- it said.

The ministry said they planned to commit "spectacular terrorist acts targeting patrols and security posts".

Five explosive devices, three hunting rifles, mobile phones and a large sum of money were seized in the raid, it added.

The raid was led by Tunisia's National Unit for the Investigation of Terrorist Crimes, said Hkima.

Since the 2011 ouster of long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, jihadist attacks have regularly targeted Tunisia's security forces.

On October 29, a 30-year-old woman blew herself up on the capital's busy upmarket Avenue Habib Gourguiba, wounding 26 people.

Tunisia has been under a state of emergency since a bloody spate of attacks rocked the capital and the coastal resort city of Sousse in 2015.