A Tunisian police officer was killed and another was injured in an overnight ambush by four attackers in the city of Kebili, some 500 kilometers south of the country's capital.
Two of the motorcycle-mounted attackers were killed and another was seriously wounded, while the fourth attacker fled on foot, according to statement of the interior ministry.
According to an eyewitness who saw the attack from his balcony, the police's quick response foiled what could have been a much deadlier attack.
"I was in my house's balcony around midnight when four attackers riding on motorcycles attacked the police checkpoint near the post office," Moncef, a schoolteacher whose house is only fifty meters from the scene of the attack told The New Arab.
“One of the attackers went into the driver's side of the police car and stabbed the officer inside, while the other one was in the passenger's side," he said, adding, "They (attackers) wanted to take over the police car from what we saw.”
The officer who was stabbed managed to use his gun and shot one of the attackers.
“People from the nearby coffee shop immediately after the shooting stopped went to the scene,” Moncef added. “Citizens stopped one of the injured attackers who was trying to detonate the explosive device inside his motorcycle's engine.”
According to the Interior ministry's statement, improvised explosive devices were installed in the motorcycles used by the attackers.
Hedi Boussafa, a local radio journalist, explained that the attackers were young people aged between twenty and thirty.
“They come from the area,” he said, adding “One of them is a vegetable vendor while the second one is an imam of a mosque.”
The policeman who was killed was 25 and left behind him a pregnant wife and a daughter.
The four attackers come from a very small locality named Bechri in the Souk el-Abad area located 25 kilometers from the city of Kebili.
Kebili is one of the country's well-known tourist destinations.
The attack is the first in the country’s south since the deadly attack on Ben Guerdane, last year.
A year ago, a group of Islamic State militants entering from Libya and supported by local others from the border city of Ben Guerdane, attempted to take over the city’s civilian and military institutions.
The attempt failed as the country’s security forces quickly intervened, resulting in the death of 52 members of the attacking group.
19 members from various Tunisian security services also lost their lives during the attack.
Tunisia has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when a suicide bombing in Tunis claimed by the IS killed 12 presidential guards.