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Tunisia Lawmaker Escapes Assassination Attempt


Nida Tunis political party's Ridha Charfeddine answers journalists' questions in the Tunisian coastal city of Sousse, south of Tunis, Oct. 8, 2015.

Unidentified gunmen fired multiple shots at a Tunisian sports magnate and legislator on Thursday near the resort city where an Islamic extremist killed 38 tourists at a luxury hotel last summer.

Ridha Charfeddine wasn't injured in the attack on a road leading to Sousse, a resort city 150 kilometers [nearly 100 miles] from Tunis.

Police combed the region in search of the attackers, who had reportedly opened fire on Charfeddine from a vehicle, and set up roadblocks at entry points to Sousse, officials said.

Charfeddine is a lawmaker in the secular Nida Tunis party of President Beji Caid Essebsi, head of the Etoile sportive du Sahel soccer team, and a top shareholder in the Attassiaa TV channel, among other business interests.

Charfeddine's car was hit with at least seven bullets as he was arriving Thursday in Sousse, senior security official Rafik Chelli told The Associated Press. Charfeddine said about 30 shots were fired in his direction.

"Seeing the gun barrel in my [car] mirror, I quickly accelerated to escape," he said in a statement.

The reason for the attack was unclear. However, the owner of the Attassiaa channel, Moez Ben Garbia, has been at the center of a controversy since he recently aired a video from a Swiss hotel claiming he had received death threats by people linked to two high-level political assassinations. He claimed to know the identity of the killers of Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, two left-wing politicians, saying he would reveal them shortly.

The 2013 killings of Belaid and Brahmi triggered the fall of the government dominated by the Islamist Ennahda party.

In his statement, Charfeddine refused to link the attack on him to the statement by Garbia, saying only, "Our country is threatened. No one is safe."

Tunisia emerged from Arab Spring uprisings with a democracy, but has been wracked by periodic violence. The Sousse hotel attack came after the March attack on the Bardo Museum outside Tunis that killed 22 people, mainly tourists.

Some information from Reuters was used in this report.