Tunisia bus explosion: State of emergency declared after bomb kills 12 on Tunis bus in 'act of terror'

The bus was carrying presidential security guards

Click to follow
The Independent Online

At least 12 people have died after a bus carrying the Tunisian presidential guard was blown up on a main road in Tunis in an "act of terror".

The blast occurred on Mohamed V Avenue, at the heart of the Tunisian capital, according to a spokesman for the North African country's Interior Ministry. 

In the hours following the attacks, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi declared a state of emergency throughout the country and curfew in the capital city.

Speaking in a televised address to the nation, Essebsi said: "I want to reassure the Tunisian people that we will vanquish terrorism."

Interior Ministry spokesman Walid Louguini told said at least 12 were killed and 16 wounded in what the government considers a "terrorist act." 

It was not immediately clear whether it was caused by bomb or an explosive fired at the bus as it travelled along the tree-lined road. 

The vehicle blew up as it passed near the former headquarters of the RCD, the party of the deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, BBC News reported. 

Ambulances have rushed to the scene as security forces secured the area, ITV News reported. 

The operation was complicated by heavy rain and flooding, according to BBC News. 

Amid a heightened climate of fear following terror attacks carried out by Isis in Beirut and Paris, the Tunisian authorities increased the security level in the capital ten days ago and deployed security forces in unusually high numbers. 

The Tunisian authorities recently announced that they had caught a terror cell it said had planned attacks at police stations and hotels in the seaside city of Sousse, around 150 kilometers (95 miles) southeast of Tunis. 

Earlier this month, the Jund al-Khilafa - an Isis-allied group - claimed responsiblity for the murder of a 16-year-old shepherd Mabrouk Soltani, in the southern mountains, The Guardian reported. The grop said the teenager was an army informer. 

The explosion comes in the same year that Isis gunmen stormed the Bardo Museum in Tunis killing 22 people; and a shooter from the extremist group killed 38 people on a beach in Sousse, including 30 Britons. 

More to follow 

Additional reporting by AP and Reuters