US says to double security aid to Tunisia in 2016

Tunisian foreign Affairs minister Taieb Baccouche (R) meets with US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken on April 10, 2015 in Tunis during the latter's two day official visit to Tunisia (AFP Photo/Fethi Belaid) (AFP)

Tunis (AFP) - Washington is to double its assistance to the security forces in Tunisia, which faces an upsurge in jihadist violence, visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Friday.

"We are prepared to provide additional assistance and training to Tunisia's security forces. Our goal is to strengthen their capability to defeat those who threaten the nation's freedom and integrity," he told a news conference.

"To that end President (Barack) Obama is seeking to double our security assistance budget for Tunisia next year," Blinken said, without giving figures.

The American official said the aid would go towards boosting the military's control of the borders of Tunisia, which has been battling jihadists on its frontier with Algeria and arms smuggling from neighbouring Libya.

It would also be used "to deal with the terrorism challenge presented here in Tunisia", he said.

"Some of this will take the form of equipment, weapons. Other parts of it will take the form of training, technical advice coordination, information sharing," said Blinken.

"All this put together, we believe, can increase the capacity for all Tunisia's security forces to deal with the challenge posed to Tunisia and the entire international community by terrorism."

Since its January 2011 revolution, followed by democratic elections which have earned international praise, Tunisia has experienced jihadist violence that has killed dozens of members of the security forces, mostly near the Algerian border.

In the capital, a massacre by gunmen last month at the national museum left 21 foreign tourists and a policeman dead.