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. »

Africa Rendez-vous/The Daily Star

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