On Tuesday, March 22, a statement from the office of the Presidency of the Republic announced, that as of March 23, the nationwide state of emergency in Tunisia would be extended for a further three month period.
The statement said President Beji Caid Essebsi had made the decision to extend the state of emergency after consultations with Prime Minister Habib Essid and the speaker of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People (ARP) Mohamed Ennaceur.
A thirty day state of emergency was declared after the November 24 suicide bombing in Tunis which killed twelve members of Tunisia’s Presidential Guard. The state of emergency had been extended for a further sixty days in January.
In February the state of emergency was again extended but only for thirty days, any hopes it would be lifted when at dawn on March 7, over fifty militants simultaneously attacked security personnel, a national guard office, a customs office and a military barracks in the city of Ben Guerdane near the Libyan border. During the attack and the days immediately following it security forces killed forty nine militants and arrested nine.
The Tunisian authorities have stated that the unprecedented attack was an attempt to establish an Islamic State emirate in Tunisia.
Tunisian security officials believe all three gunmen behind the Bardo and Sousse attacks of 2015 had trained in militant camps outside Sabratha, in Libya. After the Sousse attack the Tunisian authorities began construction on a 250 km 'security barrier' along its border with Libya. The security barrier, completed in early February, runs the section of Tunisia's border between the Ras Jedir and Dhehiba border crossings.
The Islamic State affiliated, Jund al-Khilafah, claimed responsibility for the Bardo and Sousse attacks, and in November Jund al-Khilafah also claimed to be behind the suicide bombing in Tunis which killed twelve members of Tunisia’s Presidential Guard and led to the declaration of a state of emergency.
Tunisian officials have stated that the explosives used in the Tunis bomb attack were of a ‘similar type’ to explosives seized earlier in 2015 which had been fabricated in Libya.
Estimates of Tunisians who have left the country to join militant organizations range from 3,000 to 6,000, approximately half of whom are believed to be in Libya.