Tag Archives: Tunisia

12 killed in suspected suicide bomb attack on Tunisian presidential guard bus

Family members of victims of a bomb blast on a bus transporting Tunisia's presidential guard in central Tunis on November 24, 2015, react at the site of the attack.

Family members of victims of a bomb blast on a bus transporting Tunisia’s presidential guard in central Tunis on November 24, 2015, react at the site of the attack.

Tunisia has declared a 30-day state of emergency and introduced a curfew after a suspected suicide bomb attack on a bus carrying presidential guard staff left at least a dozen people dead.

It remains unclear what caused the blast near the former headquarters of the Socialist Destourian Party of deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

One source told Reuters that it was most likely that a bomber had detonated an explosive device.Another source told Bloomberg that the explosion in the center of Tunis, on Avenue Mohamed V, was most likely carried out by a suicide bomber who had managed to sneak onto the bus.

A security source at the site meanwhile told the AFP that “most of the agents who were on the bus are dead.”

The ministry of interior labeled the explosion a terrorist act but no group has yet claimed the responsibility. The ministry said that at least 12 people had been killed because of explosion, with ministry spokesman, Walid Louguini, telling Associated Press that at least another 16 people had been wounded in the attack.

Tunisia’s President issued a nationwide state of emergency and has introduced a curfew.

“As a result of this painful event, this great tragedy… I proclaim a state of emergency for 30 days under the terms of law, and a curfew in greater Tunis from 9:00 pm (8:00pm GMT) until 5:00 am (4:00am GMT) tomorrow,” he said in a televised address.

Essebsi added that the country is at “war against terrorism,” adding that he wants to “reassure the Tunisian people that we will vanquish terrorism.”

Tunisia was the first country in the wider Middle East that kick-started the so-called Arab Spring in 2011, ousting the country’s longtime leader Zine Abidine Ben Ali.

But threat from extremists because of its geographical location and close proximity to Libya is still rampant in Tunisia, a country which is operating under a new constitution following the 2014 elections.Yet terrorist activity is high in the North African State. In June, an Islamic State gunmen killed 38 European tourists at a beach resort hotel. In March this year, an attack on Tunisia’s national museum killed 22 people.

The attack in Tunis comes amid a high security alert across Europe following the deadly Paris attacks on November 13 that left 130 people dead.

 

 

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Essebsi sworn in as Tunisian president

Tunisia’s  Beji Caid Essebsi has been sworn in as president after landmark polls in the country. Essebsi won the race in December with 55.7% of the vote, against interim President Moncef Marzouki’s 44.3%.

Unlike in previous presidential elections where ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali persecuted his rivals, Tunisians this year were able to choose their favorite from a pool of 27 candidates.

“This is the first time we reach a second round,” political analyst Noureddine Mbarki told Al Arabiya News. “The margin was little in the first round, and even the second round, 10% is the margin that we see in developed democratic countries.”

Essebsi won 39.46% of the votes on the Nov. 23 election, followed by Marzouki with 33.43 %.

“We used to see 90% back in the day,” said Mbarki, referring to election results under the dictatorship of Ben Ali.

“Tunisians headed to voting polls three times in eight weeks. This is the first time it happens in Tunisia’s history.”

This year saw the first female presidential candidate, Judge Kalthoum Kannou. Analysts saw her candidacy as another milestone in the revolution.

International reaction

Hailing the presidential vote, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said at the time: “Tunisia has provided a shining example to the region and the world of what can be achieved through dedication to democracy, consensus, and an inclusive political process.”

He added: “Tunisia’s achievements this year laid the groundwork for a more stable, prosperous, and democratic future for the country.”

The European Union also offered congratulations. “Tunisians have written a historic page in the country’s democratic transition,” said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

However, the revolution is far from complete, said political analyst Sadeq Belaid: “What has been achieved… is only one stage. The old state model failed and brought about a revolution. Now we need to build a new model stone by stone.”

He added: “It’s not enough to have democratic institutions. There’s a lot of work to be done because the transition took longer than anticipated. This will take five to 10 years.”

Algeria ends rally over president re-election

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Algerian police dispersed a demonstration in the capital staged by Algerians opposed to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika‘s decision to run for a fourth term in elections next month.

A group opposed to a fourth term for Bouteflika had called for the demonstration online, and those taking part on Saturday included journalists and rights activists.

Protesters chanted “no to a fourth term” and “15 years is enough”, an AFP journalist at the scene said.
Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999 and turns 77 on Sunday, announced a week ago he would seek reelection in an April 17 vote, after speculation his frail health would stop him from running.

There has been growing concern about Bouteflika serving another term, given the physical state of the president, who was hospitalised in Paris for three months last year after suffering a mini stroke.

He has chaired just two cabinet meetings since returning home in July, and has not spoken in public for nearly two years.years.

Even so, he is expected to win the election with the backing of the powerful state apparatus.

Calls for ‘peaceful’ change

Former Algerian premier Mouloud Hamrouche on Thursday called for a “peaceful” change of the regime, which he said was no longer capable of running the country.

And Said Sadi, former head of the secular opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy Party, also spoke out against Bouteflika on Tuesday.

He urged Algerians to “delegitimise” the upcoming elections, urging a political transition similar to the one that took place last month in Tunisia.

Several opposition parties have already called for a boycott of the election, saying its results would be a foregone conclusion.

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Suicide bomber kills self in Tunisian resort, second arrested | Reuters

(Reuters) – A suicide bomber blew himself up on Wednesday in the Tunisian resort of Sousse without causing other casualties, and police seized a would-be suicide bomber at the tomb of former President Habib Bourguiba, security sources said.

The first bomber detonated his explosive belt on a beach near the Palm Hotel in Sousse, an important tourist destination south of the capital Tunis. The second was arrested at Bourguiba’s tomb in the town of Monastir.

Bombings are rare in Tunisia, but the government has said Islamist militants have exploited the chaos in neighboring Libya to acquire arms and get training.

Earlier this year, Tunisia’s Islamist-led government began a crackdown on Ansar al-Sharia, one of the most radical groups to emerge since the country’s 2011 uprising. The group’s leader is a former al Qaeda veteran who once fought in Afghanistan.

Nine policemen were killed in clashes with militants earlier this month.

Suicide bomber kills self in Tunisian resort, second arrested | Reuters.

Rashid al-Ghannushi “Global Muslim Brotherhood” kills Tunisians,

Relatives and colleagues carry the coffin of a Tunisian policeman Socrate Cherni during a funeral as they proceed to Kef - Cemetery in Kef, 168 km (104 miles) from Tunis October 24, 2013.

Relatives and colleagues carry the coffin of a Tunisian policeman Socrate Cherni during a funeral as they proceed to Kef – Cemetery in Kef, 168 km (104 miles) from Tunis October 24, 2013.

(Reuters) – Tunisian security forces fired tear gas on Thursday to disperse hundreds of people trying to storm a local government building as demonstrations broke out over the killing of seven policemen by Islamist militants.

Tensions are rising in Tunisia, where the ruling  Islamist Ennahda party “Global Muslim Brotherhood” and opposition have been trying to start talks to end a paralyzing deadlock since the assassination of two secular opposition leaders earlier this year.

Wednesday’s killings delayed the long-awaited negotiations to save a transition to democracy, once seen as a model for the region, nearly three years after the first Arab Spring uprising toppled Tunisian autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Protest in TunisClashes erupted at a government building in Kef in northern Tunisia after funerals for the officers, with enraged residents accusing Ennahda of being too lenient with hardline Islamists. ‮‮‮‮‮‮‮ ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬Protesters attacked two local party offices of Ennahda in Kef and Beja, ransacking one and burning furniture in the street. Demonstrators took to the streets in four other cities to demand the Ennahda government resign, residents said.

Rashid al-Ghannushi "Global Muslim Brotherhood"

Rashid al-Ghannushi “Global Muslim Brotherhood”

“Ennahda killed my son, I will not accept consolation only after the departure of Ennahda…They are destroying our country and kill our children and want to turn Tunisia into a new Sudan,” said the mother of Socrate Charni, one of the seven slain policemen.

Divisions between Islamists and their secular opponents have widened in one of the Muslim world‘s most secular countries.

Prime Minister Ali Larayedh says Ennahda is ready to resign, but insists on the completion of the country’s new constitution, the establishment of an electoral commission and a clear election date before handing over power.

Talks are scheduled over the next three weeks to decide on a caretaker government and set a date for elections. But opposition leaders want Ennahda to be clearer about its intention to resign.

The government two months ago declared a local hardline Islamist movement, Ansar al-Sharia, to be a terrorist organization and began a crackdown that authorities say has led to more than 300 arrests.

Islamist violence is less common in Tunisia than in some other North African countries, where al Qaeda-associated groups have a stronger presence. But militants have grown in influence since the Arab Spring felled relatively secular authoritarian leaders who had suppressed Islamists for decades.

Unrest rises in Tunisia after Islamists kill police officers | Reuters.