IS claims deadly Tu­nisia bomb­ing

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

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.

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