- Tunisian officials say explosives from Libya used in attack
- Government has said chaos from Libya is spilling over border
Islamic State claimed the suicide bombing of a security forces bus in Tunis, as Tunisian officials said the military-grade explosives used in the blast came from neighboring Libya. Twelve people were killed in the assault in the capital.
The bombing, the third major terrorist attack in Tunisia this year, prompted President Beji Caid Essebsi to declare a state of emergency, only weeks after he lifted restrictions imposed after a gunman killed 38 tourists in the resort area of Sousse in June.
Initial studies of the Tunis blast site established that a suicide belt containing about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of explosive was used, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday. The device contained Semtex similar to that found in suicide belts smuggled in from Libya and seized in 2014, it said. Police are analyzing the DNA of a 13th body found at the scene believed to be that of the bomber.
Officials have repeatedly said the chaos in Libya is spilling across the border, undermining efforts to revive an economy where high unemployment has been partly blamed for stoking sporadic unrest since the ouster of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.
Tunisia’s National Security Council on Wednesday ordered the frontier with Libya closed for 15 days and called for tighter checks at all other land and sea borders, according to the Mosaique FM radio station.
In July, Tunisia said it would build a barrier along the frontier with Libya -- where it said the Sousse attacker was armed and trained -- that will stretch about 100 miles (160 kilometers) inland from the coast. Law and order in Libya has collapsed as two rival governments, allied militias and groups including Islamic State vie for influence. The latter claimed responsibility for the Tunis bombing in a statement on social media.
As details of the suicide bombing emerged, Tunis went into lock down. The central Habib Bourguiba avenue remained closed to traffic on Wednesday, while security was boosted at the Tunis-Carthage airport and sensitive tourist sites. The country’s largest union, the General Union of Tunisian Workers or UGTT, canceled a planned private sector strike.
Other events did go ahead, including a film festival.
“I came here with my friends to see a film and above all to say clearly, out loud to the terrorists, that we aren’t afraid and we’re going to defend joy and life through cinema and art,” Ines Amri, a 22-year-old law student, said outside the venue for the Carthage Film Festival.
It was the first time that Tunisian security forces have been targeted in such a way in the capital, though dozens have been killed since 2012 in battles with militants in the Mount Chaambi area on the border with Algeria.
“Terrorists are diversifying their attacks and bringing the terrorism of the mountains to the capital,” UGTT chief Houcine Abassi said in a press conference on Wednesday. He called for a new strategy against terrorism.
Tunisia has largely avoided the turmoil and violence that swept the region in recent years and is often described as the sole success of the Arab Spring uprisings.
The yield on Tunisia’s $1 billion of 5.75 percent Eurobonds due in 2025 reached 7.42 percent, the highest since it was sold in January, data compiled by Bloomberg show.