Tunisia on Alert After Presidential Guard Bus Bombing Kills 12

  • Natoinal Security Council to weigh further action after attack
  • Government and people share in fight against terror: Essid

Tunisia’s National Security Council was scheduled to meet Wednesday, hours after a suicide bombing of a military bus killed at least 12 people and led President Beji Caid Essebsi to declare a state of emergency.

"These terrorists want to to instill fear in the hearts of the people, but this fear will be transferred from our hearts to theirs," Essebsi said in a televised speech shortly after the explosion in the heart of the capital, Tunis. Tunisia is mired in a "global" fight, he said.

Bus wreckage in Tunis

Photographer: Fethi Belaid/AFP via Getty Images

The attack came months after a lone gunman killed 38 tourists in the resort area of Sousse, and again exposes the growing threat of militancy in a nation often described as the sole success of the Arab Spring uprisings. The beach massacre and an earlier deadly assault at the Bardo Museum in Tunis were both claimed by Islamic State and have undermined efforts to revive an economy where high unemployment has been partly blamed for stoking unrest.

The state of emergency, as well as an overnight curfew in the capital, has been imposed only weeks after Essebsi lifted restrictions put in place following the violence in Sousse.

Shared Responsibility

The National Security Council is meeting to discuss additional measures that could be taken, Prime Minister Habib Essid said Wednesday in a televised press conference. Fighting terrorism is a responsibility shared between the government and people, he said.

The yield on Tunisia’s $1 billion of 5.75 percent Eurobonds due in 2025 reached 7.11 percent as of 09:47 a.m. in Tunis, the highest since it was sold in January, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Tunisia has largely avoided the turmoil and violence that swept the region in recent years, resisting extremist ideology even during the unrest caused by the recent violence and following the 2011 ouster of then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Still, the fracturing of neighboring Libya between two governments, allied militias and groups including Islamic State has put it on the front lines of the battle against extremism.

The “largely homogeneous Tunisian population are not easily susceptible to the type of jihadi spoiling we see elsewhere in the region,” said Mohkhtar Awad, an analyst at the Center for American Progress in Washington. “Any determined jihadi actor is a serious threat to a country as small as Tunisia, but they won’t go far since the government enjoys a high degree of legitimacy and most Tunisians are unsympathetic to the jihadist cause.”

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