Police killed two young women in a tense region of Tunisia early Saturday, mistaking them for members of an armed group, the interior ministry and a relative said.
An internal security patrol was stationed by the roadside in Kasserine, in central-western Tunisia, “after a citizen supplied information about an armed group heading for the town,” the ministry said in a statement.
“A car went past at high speed” and ignored warning signals and shots in the air.
“It carried on going, causing the officers to open fire, wounding two young women in the car, who later died,” the statement said.
Ashraf Hendiri, a cousin of the women, told an AFP correspondent in Kasserine that he was also in the car and that the driver refused to stop fearing the people by the road were “terrorists”.
In the interior ministry’s statement, it stressed “the need to obey police orders, especially in the current special situation.”
The ministry said it “regrets the death of the two young women and offers its condolences to their families.”
Kasserine is at the foot of Mount Chaambi, where the army has for more than a year and a half been hunting down a jihadist group blamed for deadly attacks on security forces.
In May, four policemen guarding the interior minister’s house in the town were killed in an armed attack.