IS claims deadly Tunisia bombing
TUNIS: The Islamic State group yesterday claimed the suicide bombing of a busload of presidential guards in Tunisia’s capital, the latest attack in a country plagued by Islamist violence. President Beji Caid Essebsi and other members of the National Security Council met to discuss more crisis measures, after imposing a nationwide state of emergency following Tuesday’s blast. IS said a Tunisian, named as Abou Abdallah Al-Tounissi, had boarded the bus wearing an explosives belt only a few hundred metres from the interior ministry as it picked up guards on their way to work. Twelve of them were killed and 20 other people wounded, including four civilians, according to the health ministry.
IS said in a statement shared on jihadist social media that 20 people had died. It published a photo of the attacker dressed in white and wearing an explosives vest, his head and face covered with a scarf. The interior ministry said 10 kilos of Semtex explosives were used. It added that a 13th body “is believed to be that of the terrorist who caused the explosion”, and that DNA tests were being conducted to identify the person. After the blast Essebsi ordered a 9:00 pm to 5:00 am curfew for Tunis and a state of emergency throughout the country, less than two months after a previous one had been lifted. That was imposed in June after an IS gunman massacred 38 foreign tourists at the popular Mediterranean resort of Sousse. In March, two IS jihadists stormed the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, killing 21 tourists and a policeman. And just days ago, a jihadist group claimed the beheading of a young Tunisian shepherd on behalf of IS, accusing him of having informed the army about their movements.
Some presidential guards expressed concern that not enough was being done to protect them from attacks, noting that the bombing took place where they are routinely picked up to go to work. “As usual, we got on the bus,” one wounded guard said on national radio. “Just as the driver started to head off, the explosion occurred.”“For years this place has been our gathering point but they didn’t think to change it, although we are the first to be targeted,” another one said. The site of the explosion was cordoned off, with forensic experts at work around the burnt-out shell of the bus. Behind the barricades set up, dozens of ordinary citizens demonstrated in support of Tunisia’s security forces, some carrying the national flag. Meanwhile, plainclothes policemen prohibited journalists from gathering at the site and assaulted a number of them who did, an AFP correspondent said. Reporters Without Borders denounced the “abuse” of what it said was around 30 journalists.