Tunisia needs to renew its approach to terrorism, expert
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Tunisia is now under a state of emergency, after the bombing on Tuesday of a presidential guard bus that killed 12 people. The attack is the latest in a country already plagued by Islamist violence.
The Islamic State armed group this Wednesday claimed responsibility for the bombing that happened in a busy area of Tunis, just a few hundred metres from the interior ministry. The armed group, responsible for the recent attacks in Paris, has already staged several attacks in the North African Country.
According to the latest informations, 12 people were killed by a kamikaze who was carrying 10 kilos of explosives. The remains of a 13th person found at the scene have not yet been identified.
This attack is not the first of this kind this year in Tunisia. 22 people were killed at the Bardo National Museum in March, and 38 at a resort hotel in June. The country has become a target for islamists terrorists organisations since its revolution in 2011.
Tunisia is one of the rare success story of the Arab Spring with its democratic transition won this year Nobel peace prize.
“They’ve decided to attack, both old and solid countries like France, and more recent and still somewhat fragile democracies,” Kader Abderrahim, a researcher at the French Institute for Strategic and International Relations told RFI.
“Attacking presidential security sends a very clear message that no one is safe from their suicide bombers, their bombs and their guns. It’s also a message to the president of the republic. This is not very reassuring, because either there were security flaws or they had accomplices, or both.”
“I do believe that the Tunisian state has failed to address political violence and terrorism,” says Amel Boubekeur, an expert with the Jacques Berque centre in Rabat. “We have seen, for the past years, that new bills on security, the crackdown on Islamic groups, haven’t been efficient at all. There are two main priorities, first the need to renew the Tunisian approach on terrorism, and also renew the approach when it comes to addressing political violence.”
The first immediate consequence of the attack is that the country is under a nationwide state of emergency for at least a month, and that a curfew has been put into place in Tunis.
“There will be immediate and direct consequences on the economy and on society,” warns Kader Abderrahim. “The country just suffered its third terrorist attack this year and tourists have already heavily stopped going to Tunisia. While the Tunisian people had hoped for a renewed activity at the end of this year, today it seems like this won’t happen. It will affect thousands of people whose livelihood depends directly or indirectly on tourism.”
A huge task awaits the Tunisian authorities, who face an increasingly divided society.
The latest attack came after a jihadist group on Sunday claimed the beheading of a young Tunisian shepherd on behalf of IS, accusing him of having informed the army about their movements in the central province of Sidi Bouzid.
Arrests of suspected jihadists are made on a weekly basis and thousands of Tunisians are fighting in neighbouring Libya, as well as in Iraq and Syria on the side of IS.
“There’s a real rupture between the Tunisian elite, who are in power and the Tunisian citizens,” hopes Amel Boubekeur. “They really need to find a way to express conflict in a peaceful way.”
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