Tunisian government extends state of emergency for six months

Two suspected terrorist attacks in recent days have put security forces on high alert

epa08669996 Tunisian policemen stand guard  during first day of school at the primary school named after the martyr Sami Mrabet, in the city of Sousse south of Tunis, Tunisia on 15 September 2020. Tunisian schools reopened on 15 September for the first time since March 2020 when the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis started, pushing closure of all educative establishments in the country. The reopening takes place following strict government rules of distancing and mask wearing.  EPA-EFE/MOHAMED MESSARA *** Local Caption *** 56343305

Tunisia said it will extend the country’s six-month state of emergency.

The measure has been in place since a 2015 attack claimed by ISIS on a bus carrying presidential guards.

President Kais Saied decided the state of emergency would continue until June 23 next year, the authorities said on Friday.

The action grants exceptional powers to the security forces to control the press, imposes curbs on the press and outlaws strikes and meetings that “create disorder”.

There has been social and political instability in Tunisia in recent weeks, with protests in several regions.

Terrorist activity in the country increased after its 2011 uprising, and dozens of security staff, civilians and foreign tourists were killed.

The 2015 attack in the capital Tunis killed 12 presidential guards and came after two other deadly attacks claimed by ISIS that year – one at the capital’s National Bardo Museum and another in the coastal resort of Sousse.

On Thursday, a man armed with a knife tried to attack a police officer in Tunis, the Interior Ministry said.

Last Sunday, December 20, officials said the decapitated body of a 20-year-old man, whom they believed was the victim of a terrorist attack, had been found in the country’s central Kasserine region.

The mountainous area is also a hideout for the Tunisian branch of the terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

A night-time curfew is in place in Tunisia to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 130,000 people and killed at least 4,426 people in the country, according to health ministry figures.