IS group claims responsibility for twin suicide bombings in Tunis
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The Islamic State (IS) group on Thursday claimed responsibility for the twin suicide bombings that killed one police officer and wounded eight in Tunisia’s capital earlier in the day.
The militant group claimed responsibility via its propaganda outlet, Amaq, on Thursday evening.
Tunisia’s capital Tunis was hit by two separate, but seemingly coordinated, attacks targeting the country’s security forces shortly before 11am on Thursday.
The first blast took place near the intersection between rue Charles de Gaulle and avenue Bourguiba, the city's main thoroughfare, apparently targeting a police patrol. One police officer was killed and at least one other officer and three civilians were wounded, the interior ministry said.
Shortly afterwards, a second suicide bomber blew himself up near a police station in al-Qarjani district. Four police officers were wounded in that blast, according to the ministry's casualty report.
Heavily armed police cordoned off the locations of the attacks, one of which was about 200 metres away from the French embassy.
As reports of the blasts came in, Tunisia's presidency announced that President Beji Caid Essebsi had been rushed to hospital after suffering a "severe health crisis". Later Thursday, the presidency sent out a statement saying his condition was stable and that he was "under the necessary checks”.
Mohamed, a Tunis resident who would only give his first name, told the Reuters news agency that he had heard one of the blasts as he was shopping with his daughter. They then went to the scene of the explosion to see what had happened. “We saw the body of the terrorist lying on the ground near a police vehicle after he blew himself up,”he said.
Battling IS group
Thursday's bombings took place months before an election and at the peak of Tunisia’s tourist season.
Tunisia has been battling militant groups operating in remote areas near the border with Algeria since an uprising overthrew autocratic leader Zine Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.
Last October, a woman blew herself up in the centre of the capital Tunis, wounding 15 people including 10 police officers in an explosion that broke a period of calm after dozens died in militant attacks in 2015.
Dozens of people died in attacks in 2015 including two against tourists – one at a museum in Tunis and another on a beach in Sousse. A third attack targeted presidential guards in the capital and killed 12.
The IS group claimed those attacks.
The attacks prompted many travel agencies to pull out of the country and several governments to issue travel warnings for Tunisia. Tourism has since partially bounced back, after the Tunisian government increased security around popular destinations.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP, AFP)