Tu­nisia im­poses a state of emer­gency

Week af­ter deadly beach at­tack, pres­i­dent says na­tion is ‘not safe’

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD - BY BOUAZZA BEN BOUAZZA AND LORI HIN­NANT

tu­nis — Tu­nisia’s pres­i­dent de­clared a state of emer­gency Satur­day in re­sponse to a sec­ond deadly at­tack on for­eign­ers in three months, say­ing the coun­try is “not safe” and risks col­lapse from fur­ther ex­trem­ist at­tacks.

In a na­tion­wide tele­vised ad­dress, Pres­i­dent Beji Caid Essebsi of­fi­cially rein­tro­duced ur­gent se­cu­rity mea­sures for Tu­nisia that had been lifted in March 2014. Those mea­sures were put in place in 2011, af­ter the Arab Spring upris­ing, which started in Tu­nisia and swept the coun­try along with sev­eral other Arab states.

Essebsi said an “ex­cep­tional sit­u­a­tion re­quired ex­cep­tional mea­sures” but pledged to re­spect free­dom of ex­pres­sion.

The de­ci­sion came just over a week af­ter a gun­man at the pop­u­lar beach re­sort of Sousse at­tacked for­eign tourists, killing 38 peo­ple. Essebsi said the state of emer­gency would last 30 days.

“Tu­nisia faces a very se­ri­ous dan­ger, and it should take any pos­si­ble mea­sures to main­tain se­cu­rity and safety,” he said. “As we see in other coun­tries, if at­tacks like Sousse hap­pen again, the coun­try will col­lapse.”

Essebsi blamed the poor se­cu­rity in Libya for Tu­nisia’s prob­lems as well as the lack of in­ter­na­tional re­solve in tar­get­ing the Is­lamic State group through­out the re­gion. He said Tu­nisia specif­i­cally had been a tar­get of the ex­trem­ist group be­cause it had a func­tion­ing, sec­u­lar democ­racy.

The gun­man be­hind the beach at­tack was killed by po­lice, and the Is­lamic State later claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the mas­sacre, a blow to Tu­nisia’s tourism in­dus­try. Thirty of the 38 dead in the at­tack were Bri­tish tourists.

In March, gun­men killed 22 peo­ple, again mostly tourists, at the Na­tional Bardo Mu­seum out­side Tu­nis.

Tu­nisia’s gov­ern­ment has promised new laws to in­crease po­lice pow­ers and pro­vide for harsher penal­ties for ter­ror­ism con­vic­tions. Im­me­di­ately af­ter the beach at­tack, the prime min­is­ter pledged to post armed guards at tourist sites and close mosques out­side gov­ern­ment con­trol.

The Sousse gover­nor and se­cu­rity chiefs were fired as was a top of­fi­cial in the gun­man’s home town, ac­cord­ing to the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice.

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