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Tunisia identifies suicide bomber, closes Libyan border

Tunisia has closed its border with Libya following a spate of 'IS'-linked attacks. The attacker in the most recent suicide bombing has been identified as a Tunisian national in his 20s.

Tunisian authorities identified on Thursday a suicide bomber who killed 12 elite presidential guards earlier this week. Tunisian national Houssam ben Hedi ben Miled Abdelli, a 27-year-old local street vendor, was indentified by his DNA, according to the country's interior ministry.

In an attack claimed by self-styled "Islamic State" (IS) militants, Abdelli boarded a bus full of guardsmen on a busy street in the capital Tunis on Tuesday and detonated a suicide belt.

The assailant came from a working class neighborhood at the edge of the city, and his occupation caused many to draw parallels to another street vendor - 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi, who touched off the Tunisian revolution in 2011 after committing self-immolation in protest of his treatment by police.

Bouazizi's death prompted a wave of protests that eventually ended in the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had been in power for over 20 years, and the establishment of a democracy hailed by some as perhaps the sole sucess story of the so-called "Arab Spring."

Government response criticized

However, as Tuesday's attack marked the third bout of IS-related violence in Tunisia this year, the government of Prime Minister Habib Essid has come under fire for not doing enough to combat extremism. The earlier attacks - at the Mediterranean resort of Sousse and the National Bardo Museum - claimed 60 lives, all but one of them foreign tourists in a country where tourism plays a substantial role in the economy.

Essid said on Wednesday that because "some of the materials used in the bombing are not available in Tunisia, but they can be found in Libya," the country would close its border with its highly unstable neighbor. The government also pledged a domestic curfew, a promise to implement a new terror law approved over the summer, and a personnel increase of 6,000 for security forces fighting on all fronts from maritime border protection to detecting and removing extremist websites.

The prime minister also said a youth employment program created to tackle issues in regions plagued by poverty and religious extremism would be put in place "from next week."

To many opposition lawmakers, however, these measures were insufficient. Both leftists and Islamists have called for a more concentrated response to terrorism - starting with a special session of parliament to address the issue.

Thousands of Tunisians have traveled to neighboring Libya, as well as Iraq and Syria, to support Islamic extremism. Authorities believe that the perpetrators of both the Bardo and Sousse attacks received training in Libya.

es/msh (AP, AFP)

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