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Tunisia declares state of emergency after bus blast

Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi declared a nationwide state of emergency and a curfew in the capital after a bomb attack on a presidential guard bus killed at least 12 people.

A security source at the site said “most of the agents who were on the bus are dead” after the attack in Tunis, which has become a target of jihadist violence since the 2011 revolution.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for yesterday’s bombing, which a ministry official said also wounded 20 people when it went off on Mohamed V Avenue, just as this year’s 26th Carthage Film Festival was in full swing.

Essebsi, who cancelled a trip to Switzerland for today, declared a state of emergency throughout the country and a curfew in the capital.

“As a result of this painful event, this great tragedy… I proclaim a state of emergency for 30 days under the terms of law and a curfew in greater Tunis from 9pm until 5am tomorrow,” he said in brief televised address.

Presidential spokesman Moez Sinaoui, who described the bombing as an “attack”, told AFP the curfew would stay in place until further notice.

An AFP journalist on the scene saw the partly burnt-out shell of the bus, along with police, ambulances and fire trucks. Many people were in tears.

A bank employee working nearby reported hearing a large explosion and seeing the bus on fire.

Carthage Film Festival director Brahim Letaief cancelled the night’s screenings, saying he hoped the showcase for African and Arab film-makers could resume on Wednesday.

“That is the only way to respond to these barbaric acts,” he told AFP.

Prime Minister Habib Essid and Interior Minister Najem Gharsalli visited the scene of the blast.

The United States condemned the attack and offered to help the Tunisian authorities with their investigation.

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