On Friday, October 5, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi announced that the ongoing nationwide state of emergency would be extended by a month, remaining in place through November 6. According to local sources, the state of emergency was extended due to increasing political tensions ahead of the legislative and presidential elections slated to be held in 2019.
The state of emergency gives authorities additional powers such as the suspension of certain civil rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution, in the interest of maintaining civil order as part of broader counterterrorism and anti-corruption efforts. Specifically, under the state of emergency, authorities can ban strikes and gatherings deemed likely to cause disorder, temporarily close theaters and bars, and secure control over the press and all types of publications.
The current state of emergency has already been extended numerous times and Tunisia has been under a near-constant state of emergency since June 2015. Although briefly lifted in October 2015, it was reinstated following the November 24, 2015, bus bombing that killed a dozen security guards in downtown Tunis. The last large terror attack to strike Tunisia was in March 2016 in Ben Gardane, when militants attacked Tunisian security forces near the Libyan border.
Authorities frequently dismantle suspected terrorist cells in counterterrorism operations conducted across the country, particularly focused in the eastern Chambi mountain region (Kasserine governorate), where a number of terrorist groups are entrenched. According to estimates by the Ministry of the Interior, several thousand Tunisian nationals are currently fighting for Islamic State (IS) and other armed groups in Iraq and Syria, raising fears that they could return to Tunisia to perpetrate attacks.
Individuals in Tunisia are advised to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities, particularly when visiting sites deemed particularly likely to be targeted in an attack (public transportation, train stations, ports, airports, public or government buildings, embassies or consulates, international organizations, schools and universities, religious sites, markets, hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners/Westerners, festivals, etc.). Certain Western governments advise against travel to the south of the country (e.g., regions on the borders with Algeria and Libya, and the Kasserine region), due to the presence of armed groups.
Copyright and Disclaimer