The Tunisian presidency announced on Friday a six-month extension of the country’s state of emergency, in force since a 2015 attack on a presidential guard bus claimed by the Islamic State group.
President Kais Saied “decided on the six-month extension of the state of emergency to the national level, from December 26, 2020 to June 23, 2021,” said a statement.
The measure, uninterruptedly extended from the end of 2015, grants exceptional powers to the country’s security forces.
It allows measures to “ensure control of the press” and prohibit strikes and meetings that “create disorder.”
Tunisia has experienced political and social instability in recent weeks, along with protests in various regions.
The country faced a surge in jihadist activity after its 2011 revolution, with attacks that killed dozens of security personnel, civilians and foreign tourists.
The 2015 attack in the capital Tunis killed 12 presidential guards and came after two other deadly attacks claimed by IS that year: one at the capital’s Bardo museum and another in the seaside resort of Susa.
On Thursday, a “extremist-looking” man tried to attack a police officer with a knife in the capital Tunis while shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest in Arabic), the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Last Sunday, authorities said the decapitated body of a 20-year-old man had been found in the central Kasserine region of the country in a probable “terrorist” attack.
The mountainous central region is also a hiding place for the Tunisian branch of the jihadist group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), known as Okba Ibn Nafaa.
In addition to the state of emergency, in Tunisia there is a night curfew to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, which has infected more than 126,000 people and killed more than 4,300 in the country, according to figures from the Health Ministry.