An explosion has hit a bus carrying members of Tunisia’s presidential guard, killing at least 12 people and wounding 16 others in what the interior ministry called a “terrorist act”.
The blast on a tree-lined avenue in the heart of the capital Tunis is a new blow to a country that has struggled against Islamic extremist violence.
A presidential source told Reuters that the attack was probably caused by a bomber detonating explosives inside the vehicle.
Gunmen staged two major attacks earlier this year that killed 60 people, devastated the tourism industry and rattled the young democracy.
Police fanned out throughout central Tunis after Tuesday’s explosion, and ambulances rushed to the scene, evacuating wounded and dead.
Interior ministry spokesman Walid Louguini said that at least 12 were killed and 16 wounded in what the government considers a “terrorist act”.
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said Tunisia’s government will declare a state of emergency.
Tunisian authorities are also placing the capital Tunis under curfew until 5am on Wednesday, President Beji Caid Essebsi said.
The attack came days after authorities visibly but inexplicably increased the security level in the capital and deployed security forces in unusually high numbers.
A few days before that, Tunisian authorities announced the dismantling of a cell that it said had planned attacks at police stations and hotels in the seaside city of Sousse, about 150km south east of Tunis. Sousse was one of the targets of attacks earlier this year.
Tunisia’s tourism industry has been hit hard this year following extremist attacks.
Shootings at a luxury beach hotel in Sousse last June killed 38 people, mostly tourists, while in March, an attack by Islamist extremists at Tunisia’s famed Bardo museum near the capital killed 22 people.