Tunisia attack, a history of recent security incidents

The country has been rocked by ISIS and Al Qaeda inspired or claimed attacks, but most of the victims are among the security forces

People are prevented to enter a security area after an explosion in Tunis, Thursday June 27, 2019. The Tunisian Interior ministry said one police officer has died in the suicide bombing targeting a police patrol in a busy commercial street in central Tunis. (AP Photo/Riadh Dridi)
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Tunisia has been relatively stable since a popular uprising brought down the longtime leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who ruled the country from 1987 until his ousting in 2011. However, thousands of Tunisians have joined militant groups across the region, including ISIS, and it has experienced spillover from the violent conflict in neighbouring Libya.

On Thursday, at least one officer was killed when multiple explosions rocked the capital. At least eight others were wounded.

Here is a breakdown of the recent major attacks in the country:

18 March 2015

Twenty-two tourists, mostly from Europe, were killed and over 50 injured when gunmen attacked the Bardo National Museum in downtown Tunis. The three gunmen, at least two of whom were Tunisians, took many tourists hostage inside the museum leading to a standoff. Police stormed the building, killing two of the gunmen. One officer was fatally wounded in the attack. While the ISIS claimed responsibility, the government blamed a splinter of the local affiliate of Al Qaeda and raided a hideout of the group some days after the attack.

26 June 2015

The most deadly attack in recent history took place in June 2015 when a gunman attacked two seafront hotels popular with tourists in the resort town of Port El Kantaoui, killing 38 people – mostly British holidaymakers. The incident devastated the tourist sector, a major industry in the country, as British tour companies ended holidays to the country and other Western travellers were warned against holidaying in the country.

24 November 2015

Twelve Tunisian presidential guards were killed when a suicide bomber attacked their bus in an attack claimed by ISIS. The government brought in a state of emergency after the 2015 attacks in a bid to bring stability.

8 July 2018

At least six police officers were killed while on patrol in the Ain Sultan area of Jendouba province bordering Algeria. A landmine detonated near the patrol before gunmen opened fire on the officers. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks.

29 October 2018

At least nine people, eight of whom were police officers, were wounded when a female suicide bomber blew herself up on a crowded shopping street in central Tunis. The woman was described as having no militant background or known links to extremists.

Attacks on security forces are not uncommon in the country and the several militant groups, some with links to global franchises such as ISIS or Al Qaeda but others born from local grievances, vie for influence and headlines. However, security forces have fought off several sustained attacks on towns and provinces near Libya and Algeria and the large-scale response to the 2015 incidents have to some extent hampered the groups’ ability to stage attacks on high-profile targets.

However, the country is still contending with the fact that an estimated 2,900 Tunisians left to fight with ISIS in Iraq and Syria and some 970 are thought to have returned home. With little resources to monitor, rehabilitate or track them all, many remain at large.