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Tunisia declares state of emergency

July 4, 2015

Tunisia's president has declared a state of emergency a week after an Islamic militant attack on the resort town of Sousse. The country last imposed such a measure during the 2011 uprising that launched the Arab Spring.

Tunesien Sousse Strand Sicherheitskräfte nach Amoklauf
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Messara

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi declared a state of emergency on Saturday, a move that will give his government more authority, though it was initially unclear exactly what powers the government would take.

"I have decided to declare the state of emergency throughout Tunisia for 30 days," the president said in a televised address.

"We are facing a serious danger...we are in a state of war," he said, adding that the country is "not safe" from extremist attacks.

The declaration comes one week after a gunman killed 38 foreign tourists at a beach hotel in the northern city of Sousse. It temporarily gives the government more executive flexibility, hands the police and army more authority, and restricts certain rights such as the right to public assembly.

The "Islamic State" terrorist group claimed responsibility for the shooting - the second deadly attack on tourists in Tunisia in the past three months. In March, two Tunisians killed at least 20 people in a gun attack on the Bardo museum in the capital, Tunis.

Blow to tourism

The gunman behind the June 26 Sousse rampage, identified as 23-year-old student Seifeddine Rezgui, was killed by police at the scene. On Thursday, Tunisian authorities announced they had arrested eight people "with direct links" to the attack.

Officials also said Rezgui had received training from jihadis in neighboring Libya, and was there at the same time as the two Tunisians behind the Bardo attack.

The last time an emergency was declared in Tunisia was during the revolution that ousted longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. Those powers remained in place until March 2014.

Tunisia has faced a surge in jihadist violence since the ouster, putting the country's budding democracy and tourism industry at risk. More than 3,000 Tunisians have left the North African country to fight with militant groups in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, according to Reuters.

nm/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)