Tuesday 25 October 2016

Tunisia lifts state of emergency imposed after Sousse beach massacre

Published 02/10/2015 | 20:02

Flowers on the beach at Sousse, Tunisia, where 38 people were shot dead in a terror attack in June
Flowers on the beach at Sousse, Tunisia, where 38 people were shot dead in a terror attack in June

Tunisia has lifted the state of emergency which was imposed nearly three months ago following a massacre at a luxury beach hotel in which 38 people, mainly British tourists, were killed, the president's office announced.

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The state-run TAP news agency announced the move, which had been expected.

President Beji Caid Essebsi imposed the measure on July 4 for a month after the June attack at a hotel in the holiday region of Sousse - the second deadly attack on foreigners in three months.

He then extended the state of emergency at the end of July for two more months - until the end of September.

The gunman behind the beach attack was killed by police and the Islamic State group later claimed responsibility for the massacre, which has dealt a blow to Tunisia's tourism industry. Thirty of the 38 dead in the attack were British tourists.

In March, gunmen killed 22 people, again mostly tourists, at the National Bardo Museum outside Tunis.

Mr Essebsi blamed poor security in neighbouring Libya for Tunisia's problems, and the lack of international resolve in targeting the Islamic State group throughout the region. He maintained that Tunisia had been a specific target of the extremist group because it had a functioning, secular democracy.

Under the state of emergency, the army, deployed to guard sensitive sites, was authorised to shoot to kill if under threat. Rallies of more than three people were banned in theory only.

However, the country also armed itself with an aggressive anti-terrorism law on July 25. It was meant to aid the fight against extremist groups but has provoked fears that freedoms won in the country's 2011 revolution might be threatened.

Tunisia was also under a state of emergency from January 2011, at the outbreak of the Arab Spring, until March 2014.

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