Samira, Tunisia — An ancient building on a hilltop in Samira province was burned to the ground Tuesday, an act the city’s government says was meant to prevent the city from becoming a hub for extremist activity.
The destroyed building belonged to a building belonging to the Samira Cultural Center, the city government said in a statement Tuesday, saying the government was in the process of cleaning up the rubble.
The center was destroyed during an uprising in 2016 that left thousands dead and forced many others to flee.
In 2017, a fire broke out at the center, and some of the building’s floors were covered in smoke.
The fire destroyed the entire building.
The center was rebuilt, and it’s unclear if the fire would have damaged it.
In an interview with local newspaper Al-Watan on Wednesday, Tunisian Foreign Minister Amr al-Haddad said the building was used as a meeting place for the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda.
The destruction of the Samiras Cultural Center comes less than a week after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took over large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq.
The U.S. and other Western countries have condemned ISIS’ brutality, and the organization is also fighting to regain control of the city of Raqqa, which is located in northern Syria.