An attack on the elite presidential guard in Tunisia has been claimed by the self-styled "Islamic State." The government vowed a security crackdown and declared a state of emergency.
"Islamic State" (IS) terrorists claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing in Tunis on Wednesday, prompting Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid to promise extremely tough anti-terrorism measures, particularly in the capital. He announced a strict new curfew and declared a month-long state of emergency for the whole country.
"The terrorist operation was intended to shake the stability of the state and strike at the presidency," Essid said on Wednesday after a government crisis meeting, referring to Tuesday night's suicide attack against a bus carrying presidential guards.
Tunisia's interior ministry said that around 10 kilograms of military-grade explosives had been packed into a suicide belt which was then detonated on the bus of elite guardsmen on a busy street in the heart of the city. While IS militants claimed that around 30 men had died, the government said that 12 guards had lost their lives - along with the remains of a 13th person who could either be the bomber or a civilian victim.
Jihadis threaten more Tunisia attacks
IS identified the bomber as Abu Abdullah al-Tunisi, whom they said had killed the "apostates" because the "tyrants of Tunis will not have peace and we will not rest until the law of God governs in Tunis."
Tunisia has already been the victim of IS-influenced terror attacks twice this year when militants targeted popular tourist sites including a luxury beach resort in Sousse in June, when a shooter killed 30 people. An earlier attack at the Bardo Museum in March claimed 21 lives, again mostly those of tourists.
Tunisia has been lauded as perhaps the sole, moderate success story of the Arab Spring after its transition to democracy did not succumb to the violence that has plagued many other nations who sought the ouster of authoritarian leaders in 2011. The string of attacks has greatly threatened the country's reputation, however, not least because tourism is a key component of the economy.
es/msh (AFP, AP, dpa)