Tunisia says lifts state of emergency imposed after beach attack

 02 Oct 2015 - 19:50

Tunisia says lifts state of emergency imposed after beach attack
A grave of a jihadi gunman who killed 38 tourists at the Tunisian beach resort, on September 30, 2015. (AFP)


TUNIS: A state of emergency imposed in Tunisia after a jihadist gunman massacred 38 foreign tourists in June is set to be lifted, the president's office announced Friday.
"The state of emergency announced on July 4 and extended on July 31 ends today, October 2," Beji Caid Essebsi's office said.
"It had been extended for two months and this period ends" at midnight, presidency spokesman Moez Sinaoui told AFP, without elaborating.
On July 4, eight days after the shooting spree at the Mediterranean resort of Port El Kantaoui north of Sousse, Essebsi ordered a state of emergency for an initial 30 days.
On July 31, the president's office announced it would be extended.
The state of emergency was one of a raft of measures introduced by the authorities after the seaside massacre, which dealt a heavy blow to Tunisia's key tourism industry.
The June 26 attack killed 30 Britons, three Irish, two Germans, one Belgian, one Portuguese and a Russian.
Afterwards, the government began arming tourism police for the first time and reinforced them with troops in an attempt to reassure foreign governments.
A state of emergency, granting special powers to the police and army, was in force for three years up until March 2014, following longtime secular president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's ouster in a 2011 revolution.
Apart from allowing the barring of strike action, the measure authorised the authorities to raid homes at any time of the day and to keep tabs on the media.
The gunman behind the June 26 attack on foreign tourists, 23-year-old Seifeddine Rezgui, was killed by police after his bloody rampage.
Tourists fled in horror as Rezgui pulled a Kalashnikov assault rifle from inside a furled beach umbrella and began a shooting spree outside a five-star hotel.
The attack on the beach and around the swimming pools of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel was claimed by the Islamic State group.
Rezgui was buried unceremoniously on Wednesday in the farming town of Gaafour under strict security, three months after the attack.
No residents of Gaafour other than relatives attended, and no Muslim funeral rite was permitted, including the "Janaza" prayer that directly precedes burial, an AFP correspondent said.
The interior ministry told AFP Wednesday it could not say why there had been a delay of three months between Rezgui's death and burial, during which time his body was kept in the morgue of a Tunis hospital.
Prime Minister Habib Essid has said Rezgui was radicalised on the Internet before undergoing weapons training in neighbouring Libya.
Since Tunisia's revolution, the North African country has seen a rise in jihadist extremism that the authorities also blame for the deaths of many members of the security forces.