The Tunisian presidency has announced a six-month extension of the country’s state of emergency, in place since a 2015 attack on a presidential guard bus claimed by the ISIL (ISIS) group.
President Kais Saied “decided on the six-month extension of the nationwide state of emergency from December 26, 2020 to June 23, 2021”, a statement said on Friday.
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The state of emergency was first declared on November 24, 2015, following the attack on the presidential guard, which killed 12 people.
The measure, extended continuously since late 2015, grants exceptional powers to the country’s security forces. It allows measures to “ensure the control of the press” and for strikes and meetings that “create disorder” to be banned.
Rights groups have consistently denounced the measure, saying it has led to widespread human rights violations.
Tunisia has seen political and social instability in recent weeks, along with protests in several regions.
The country faced a rise in activity by armed groups after its 2011 revolution, with attacks killing dozens of security personnel, civilians and foreign tourists.
The 2015 attack in the capital Tunis killed 12 presidential guards and came after two other deadly attacks claimed by ISIL that year: one at the capital’s Bardo museum and another at a resort in the coastal city of Sousse.
On Thursday, a man of “extremist appearance” attempted to attack a police officer with a knife in Tunis while yelling “Allahu Akbar” (“God is the greatest” in Arabic), the interior ministry said in a statement.
Last Sunday, officials said the decapitated body of a 20-year-old man had been found in the country’s central Kasserine region in a probable “terrorist” attack.
The mountainous central region is also a hideout for the Tunisian branch of the armed group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), known as Okba Ibn Nafaa.
As well as the state of emergency, a night-time curfew is in place in Tunisia to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 126,000 people and killed over 4,300 in the country, according to health ministry figures.