Tunisian president extends state of emergency

Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi. (AFP)
Updated 06 October 2018

Tunisian president extends state of emergency

  • The state of emergency grants exceptional powers to security forces, allowing them to ban strikes
  • In Tunisia, which since its 2011 revolution has seen the emergence of terrorist groups, soldiers

TUNIS: Tunisia's presidency has announced the extension of the country's state of emergency, imposed in 2015 following a series of deadly terrorist attacks.

The decision to prolong the state of emergency until Nov. 6 comes amid a tense political climate ahead of legislative and presidential elections planned for next year.

President Beji Caid Essebsi took the decision after meeting with the ministers of defense and interior, his office said.

They discussed "the security and military situation in the country and at the borders," according to a statement.

The president also consulted Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, despite strained relations between the two.

The state of emergency grants exceptional powers to security forces, allowing them to ban strikes and meetings "likely to provoke... disorder."

It also includes measures to "assume control of the press."

The nationwide state of emergency was declared on Nov. 24, 2015, after an attack in the capital Tunis which killed 12 presidential guards. The suicide bombing was claimed by Daesh.

Earlier the same year attacks by Daesh on the capital's Bardo museum and the coastal resort of Sousse left 59 tourists and a policeman dead.

The most recent large-scale assault came in March 2016, when dozens of terrorists attacked security installations in the town of Ben Guerdane on the Libyan border. Thirteen security forces and seven civilians were killed.

In Tunisia, which since its 2011 revolution has seen the emergence of terrorist groups, soldiers and police officers continue to be targeted particularly in mountainous areas bordering Algeria.

On Wednesday, two soldiers were killed in a land mine blast during an anti-terrorist operation on Mount Chaambi near the Algerian frontier.

Okba Ibn Nafaa, a Tunisia-based division of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), is present in the area.

Tourist arrivals bounced back last year to above their pre-attack levels as the industry rebounds from the terrorist attacks.

More than 6 million foreign travellers visited 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.

But receipts were only two thirds of the level recorded for 2014 as a whole.

Inflation and excessive reliance on beachside holiday packages have slowed the longer-term recovery of revenues, said industry experts.

Arrivals from Europe and Russia rose nearly 45 percent, accounting for much of the surge, despite concerns that the hot European summer and the football World Cup could limit demand for Tunisian destinations.

Tourism Minister Selma Elloumi Rekik said in May that she expected total arrivals to exceed 8 million in 2018, higher than the 7 million recorded in 2010, a benchmark year for Tunisian tourism.

Tour operator Thomas Cook, which suspended its Tunisia holidays in the wake of the June 2015 Sousse attack, resumed operations in February.


Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

Updated 16 September 2019

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

  • Joint operations planned to prevent attacks ahead of polls

KABUL: Afghan forces backed by US forces killed two senior Taliban leaders and at least 38 fighters of the hard-line insurgent group in joint airstrikes conducted in northern and western regions of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the US and the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry in a statement said that the Taliban’s designate governor for northern Samangan province, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed along with four fighters in an airstrike in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district.

But the Taliban denied the governor had been killed.

“He (Nooruddin) is alive,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.

HIGHLIGHT

Taliban deny the governor of Samangan province had been killed.

Last week, insurgents killed four Afghan special force members in a car bomb blast.

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day.

In a separate incident, Mullah Sayed Azim, a Taliban designate governor for Anar Dara district in western Farah was killed in a joint Afghan and foreign force raid.

“Sayed Azim was killed along with 34 other insurgents in Anar Dara,” said Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for Farah provincial police.

Senior security officials in Kabul said several joint operations will be launched against Taliban and Daesh fighters to prevent attacks on Afghan forces and civilians ahead of the presidential polls on Sept. 28.

Fighting picked up in several parts of Afghanistan last week after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelation of talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and opening the way to end to 18 year-long war in Afghanistan. 

 

Troops for polling day

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 72,000 security personnel will be on duty around the 4,942 polling centers across Afghanistan while nearly 30,000 additional troops will serve as reserve units.

Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said security forces have recently taken back eight districts from the Taliban and that operations are underway to secure around 20 others.