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Tunisia asks US for 12 helicopters to fight 'terrorism'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Tunisia has asked the United States for a dozen American-made Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters so its forces can "fight terrorism," the country's president said Tuesday.

Since its 2011 revolution, the North African country has seen the rise of a jihadist movement, with some 50 members of the military and police force killed in attacks linked to armed groups.

Meanwhile, extremist group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb recently claimed responsibility for attacks in Tunisia, notably an assault on the family home of the country's interior minister in May.

"We asked the United States to give us about 12 Black Hawks," President Moncef Marzouki said during an appearance at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.

"That is extremely costful. Even if we ... had this money it will take two or three years to get them. But we badly need them now."

Marzouki is one of dozens of African heads of state and government currently in the US capital for a major three-day US-Africa summit hosted by President Barack Obama.

Marzouki also said Tunisia needed night vision and communications equipment, adding that the army was not properly trained and "has not got all the means it needs."

"So we have to hurry up, it is really necessary to fight against terrorism because these terrorists are extremely well trained," he said.

In other remarks, Marzouki said: "We were the first to be surprised by the start of the Arab Spring from Tunisia. This is why, yes, we think that we have an obligation, yes -- we must be a success story."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140805/tunisia-asks-us-12-helicopters-fight-terrorism