Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tunisia: Suicide Bombers Neuralized at Resort Towns, Not from Capital

According to The Independent, two suicide bombers struck at the heart of the Tunisian tourist industry, Sousse, on Wednesday (October 30), targeting resorts popular with British and other European tourists. 

One suicide attack struck a hotel in the Mediterranean tourist resort of Sousse, south of the capital Tunis, yet the bomber was turned away from the hotel and alternatively detonated his explosive belt on a nearby beach. 

The second attack was foiled in advance. The bomber was apprehended as he approached the tomb of Tunisia’s first post-independence leader, Habib Bourguiba, in the resort town of Monastir. 

The first bomber, who was killed, was the only casualty, but the incidents underlined the vulnerability of Tunisia, once seen as the Arab world’s most stable and westernized country, has changed dramatically in recent years. 

Unfortunately, Tunisia borders only Algeria and Libya, both of which have seen major civil wars in recent years. The deserts of the two neighbouring countries have become havens for al-Qaeda-linked terror groups, while Tunisia itself has seen a number of its young men join jihadist organisations, some leaving to fight in the Syrian conflict.    

COMMENT: The first attack happened on Wednesday morning at the Riadh Palms, a four-star hotel in the center of Sousse. 

It was the first suicide attack in Tunisia since the bombing of the celebrated synagogue on the tourist island of Djerba which killed 21 people, mostly German tourists, in 2002. 

The second incident took place half an hour later in the town of Monastir, twelve miles to the south. The interior ministry described both men responsible as “Salafi Jihadists” and said an accomplice was still being sought. 

Security has become a major political issue in the country, with Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party which leads a coalition government, on the point of resigning over accusations that it had not taken the Jihadist threat seriously enough until two leftist politicians were assassinated in February and July this year. 

The US Embassy was also attacked by militants in September 2012.