Tunisia said on Wednesday it is closing its border with Libya, a hotbed of violent unrest, a day after a deadly suicide bombing claimed by the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) takfiri group.
No reason was given, but the interior ministry said earlier the explosive used in the attack that killed 12 presidential guards was the same used to make suicide belts illegally brought from Libya and seized last year.
The National Security Council, headed by President Beji Caid Essebsi, decided to close the frontier from midnight with “reinforced surveillance of maritime borders and in airports”, a statement said.
It also decided to “step up operations to block (Internet) sites linked to terrorism”.
And authorities would “take urgent measures regarding people returning from hotbeds of conflict, in line with the anti-terrorist law,” the statement added, without elaborating.
Earlier, the transport ministry said security would be reinforced at ports and only passengers would be allowed to enter Tunis’s international airport.
The council also announced the government would recruit more security forces.
Thousands of Tunisians have travelled to Libya, as well as to Iraq and Syria, to fight alongside extremists, the authorities say.
Tunisia’s oil-rich neighbor has been rocked by chaos and warfare since the 2011 ouster of dictator Moammar Gaddafi, opening the way for ISIL to gain a foothold there.
ISIL said a Tunisian, Abou Abdallah al-Tounissi, had boarded a bus wearing an explosive belt only a few hundred meters from the interior ministry as it picked up guards on their way to work Tuesday.
In addition to the 12 killed, another 20 people were wounded, the health ministry said.
ISIL said 20 people had died.
After the blast, President Essebsi ordered a 9:00 pm to 5:00 am curfew for Tunis and a 30-day nationwide state of emergency, less than two months after a previous one had been lifted.
That was imposed in June after an ISIL gunman massacred 38 foreign tourists at the Mediterranean resort of Sousse.
In March, two ISIL extremists stormed the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, killing 21 tourists and a policeman.
And just days ago, a extremist group claimed the beheading of a young Tunisian shepherd on behalf of ISIL, accusing him of having informed the army about their movements.