Suicide bomber attacks Tunisian resort town
No one else hurt in bombing which could affect vital tourist industry
Police officers carry the body of a suicide bomber from the crime scene at a beach near the tourist resort of Sousse yesterday. Photograph: Mohamed Amine ben Aziza/Reuters
A suicide bomber blew himself up in the Tunisian tourist resort of Sousse yesterday, the first such assault in more than a decade in a country now battling Islamist militants boosted by chaos in neighbouring Libya.
Police foiled another attack when they arrested a would-be suicide bomber at former president Habib Bourguiba’s tomb in the seaside town of Monastir, and detained five other people in Sousse thought to be plotting assaults, security sources said.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the Islamist-led government said all the arrested men had admitted to being members of the militant Ansar al-Sharia movement, which it says is linked to al-Qaeda’s North Africa affiliate.
“The two suicide bombers are radical Islamist jihadists. They are Tunisians, but they had been in a neighbouring country,” said interior ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui, without specifying the country.
The first bomber had tried to enter the Riadh Palms Hotel with a suitcase. Turned away, he ran on to the beach and blew himself up, a security source said. No one else was hurt.
The bombing is bad news for the vital tourism industry in Tunisia, which attracted 5.8 million mostly European visitors to its Mediterranean beaches and desert tours in 2012. Tourism is still recovering from the 2011 uprising that toppled the North African country’s autocratic leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
Tunisia’s stock market dropped 0.95 per cent after the bombing.
“We don’t know the consequences right now ... Whatever happens it will be negative because this is the first time they attack a hotel,” said Mohamed Ali Toumi, head of Tunisia’s federation of travel agencies.
Al-Qaeda carried out Tunisia’s only previous suicide bombing in 2002 when 21 people were killed at a synagogue on the island of Djerba.