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Tunisia president falls ill as attacks rock their capital city

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Security and investigative personnel near a shrapnel riddled vehicle at the scene of a suicide bombing in Tunis on Thursday

Double suicide attacks shook Tunisia’s capital Thursday, even as the country was plunged into uncertainty with the hospitalisation of President Beji Caid Essebsi who was said to be “seriously ill”.

The violence revived fears for the stability of the North African state, which is seen as a rare democratic success story of the Arab Spring uprisings but has been hit by repeated Islamist attacks.

Thursday’s blasts — one on a central avenue and another against a security base — killed a police officer and wounded at least eight people including several civilians, the interior ministry said.

Beji Caid Essebsi, seen in this February 2019 picture, is Tunisia’s first democratically elected president

An AFP correspondent saw body parts strewn in the road around a police car after the first attack, which took place on Habib Bourguiba, a central avenue near the old city.

The interior ministry said one policeman died from his wounds after that blast, while another policeman and three civilians were wounded.

“It was a suicide attack,” interior ministry spokesman Sofiene Zaag told AFP.

Half an hour later, the second attack targeted a base of the national guard, judicial police and the anti-terror branch in the capital.

“An individual blew himself up outside the back door” of the base, wounding four security personnel, Zaag said, adding that both bombers were men.

Ambulances and emergency services vehicles quickly arrived on the scene as security forces tried to keep the curious away.

Body parts lay on the sidewalk near the police vehicle that was targeted, including the head and feet of the bomber.


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