Woman blows herself up in central Tunis injuring 20

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Police cordoned off the capital's central Habib Bourguiba Avenue after the blast. (AFP)
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The Tunisian Interior Ministry said nine people had been injured. (AFP)
Updated 30 October 2018
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Woman blows herself up in central Tunis injuring 20

  • The Tunisian Interior Ministry said 20 people had been injured
  • The attack is the latest to target Tunisia since the 2011 uprising

LONDON: A woman suicide bomber blew herself up in the center of the Tunisian capital on Monday, injuring 20 people.

The attack was the first in the country in three years and a stark reminder of the threat posed by extremism as Tunisia claws its way back to economic and political stability after the 2011 uprising.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi described the attack as a tragedy. "We thought we had eradicated terrorism ...(but it) is still in the heart of capital," he said.

The wounded included 15 police officers and two teenagers, said police spokesman Walid Ben Hkima, but there were no serious injuries.

Interior ministry spokesman Sofiene Zaag told AFP that the suicide bomber blew herself up in the middle of the day "near police cars" in the upmarket Avenue Habib Bourguiba in Tunis.

Ambulances arrived swiftly at the scene, which was cordoned off by security forces. Shops lowered their shutters and cafes emptied as panic gripped passersby.

Pictures showed the bomber's body, apparently mostly intact, lying on the ground on its back with black glasses on the forehead under one of the neatly-trimmed box trees that line the avenue.
The interior ministry identified the assailant as a 30-year-old woman with no known extremist affiliations, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Police sources said the bomber had most likely not been wearing or carrying an explosive belt, but instead a "home made bomb".
Significant police reinforcements arrived quickly at the scene and at least two people were arrested, an AFP journalist said.
Shortly before the blast, a small group of demonstrators had held a protest in the avenue against the killing near Tunis last week of a teenager by a customs agent.
The attack was the first in the Tunisian capital since Nov. 24, 2015 when a suicide bombing killed 12 security agents on a bus for presidential guards. That attack was claimed by Daesh.
The Islamist party Ennahdha, the second largest party in parliament, condemned Monday's "cowardly attack" and urged all Tunisians "to unite in confronting terrorism", while reiterating its full support for "military institutions and the police".
Since the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, extremist attacks in Tunisia have killed dozens of members of the security forces and foreign tourists.
In June 2015, 38 people were killed in a shooting rampage at the coastal resort of Sousse which targeted tourists, while an attack in March that year on the National Bardo Museum in Tunis left 22 people dead, most of them tourists.
The terror attacks claimed by Daesh devastated Tunisia's crucial tourism sector, which made up seven percent of gross domestic product.
The country has been under a state of emergency since the November 2015 attack on the bus.
The state of emergency was extended earlier this month until Nov. 6, amid a tense political climate ahead of legislative and presidential elections planned for next year.
In March 2016, dozens of extremists who infiltrated from neighbouring Libya assaulted security posts in the southern region of Ben Guerdane in what Tunisian authorities said was an aborted attempt to declare an "emirate".
The attack, which went unclaimed, left 20 dead among security forces and civilians.
Calm has led to a rebound in the tourism industry over the past two years, with more than six million foreign travellers visiting Tunisia in the first nine months of 2018, according to government data.
Arrivals rose 16.9 percent to 6.3 million in the nine months to the end of September, surpassing the number for the whole of 2014.
Tourism revenues in the first nine months of 2018 totalled just over $1.2 billion, a rise of 27.6 percent year-on-year.
Tourism Minister Selma Elloumi Rekik told AFP in May that she expected total arrivals to exceed eight million in 2018, higher than the seven million recorded in 2010, a benchmark year for Tunisian tourism.
 


Iran, US tension is a ‘clash of wills’: Guards commander

Updated 45 min 6 sec ago
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Iran, US tension is a ‘clash of wills’: Guards commander

  • The commander said they will have a “hard, crushing and obliterating response” for their enemies
  • Tensions between Iran and US escalated after Trump restored sanctions

GENEVA: The standoff between Iran and the United States is a “clash of wills,” a senior commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday, suggesting any enemy “adventurism” would meet a crushing response, Fars news agency reported.
Tensions have spiked between the two countries after Washington sent more military forces to the Middle East in a show of force against what US officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and interests in the region.
“The confrontation and face-off of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the malicious government of America is the arena for a clash of wills,” Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri said.
He pointed to a battle during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war where Iran was victorious and said the outcome could be a message that Iran will have a “hard, crushing and obliterating response” for any enemy “adventurism.”
On Sunday, US President Donald Trump tweeted: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!“
Trump restored US sanctions on Iran last year and tightened them this month, ordering all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
Trump wants Iran to come to the negotiating table to reach a new deal with more curbs on its nuclear and missile programs.
Reiterating Iran’s stance, the spokesman for its Supreme National Security Council said on Thursday that “There will not be any negotiations between Iran and America.”
Keyvan Khosravi was also quoted as saying by the state broadcaster that some officials from several countries have visited Iran recently, “mostly representing the United States.”
He did not elaborate, but the foreign minister of Oman, which in the past helped pave the way for negotiations between Iran and the United States, visited Tehran on Monday.
“Without exception, the message of the power and resistance of the Iranian nation was conveyed to them,” he said.
In Berlin, a German diplomatic source told Reuters that Jens Ploetner, a political director in Germany’s Foreign Ministry, was in Tehran on Thursday for meetings with Iranian officials to try to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and cool tensions in the region.