Najjar in Tunis — At least five Ansar al-Sharia terrorists are in custody in connection with two failed suicide bomb attacks on Wednesday (October 30th), Tunisian Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui said.
In the first suicide attack to hit Tunisia in more than a decade, 21-year-old Zahrooni resident Mohamed Jlili al-Ayadi Ben Romdhan blew himself up near the Riadh Annakhil hotel at Sousse beach. The terrorist was the only victim of the blast, which occurred around 9:30am.
He reportedly intended to detonate an explosive device at the tourist hotel, but was spotted and chased away to the beach.
The same hour in Monastir, security forces foiled an attempt by an 18-year-old to detonate a suitcase bomb at the tomb of Tunisian independence leader Habib Bourguiba.
"The two operations represent a new phase in terrorist activities. Now they are targeting citizens directly," military analyst Mokhtar Ben Nas noted.
"The aim is to distract the security apparatus and shift the pressure of the military operations away from Sidi Ali Ben Aoun," he added.
Ennahda issued a statement praising "security and military forces for succeeding in thwarting the attacks".
"These terrorist operations and other attempts will not disrupt the path of democratic transition," the ruling party said. "National dialogue is the appropriate response to anyone who wants to thwart the transition and objectives of our national security."
Ettakatol called on all political parties, social associations, and civil society "to unite and prepare to address the various threats facing Tunisia and its vital interests".
For her part, human rights activist Raja Ben Slama appealed to the judiciary. "Terrorism is not a point of view, and not just a deviation that leads to theft or petty crimes. It is a crime against the state and the people. We hope fighting it takes a new turn commensurate with its upward trend and intensity," she said.
"Terrorism today targets the whole nation. The operation in Sousse was intended to strike at the economy. As for targeting of the tomb of Bourguiba, it is a message to democratic forces defending the civil state," said Chokri Dhouibi, a 44-year-old university professor.
"The targets were not random. The terrorists reached their goal as world TV channels are now talking about hotels being targeted. We should not expect a successful tourism season," he added.
Marwa Maizi, 33, voiced fears for younger generation. "Terrorist organisations are exploiting young people in their prime, brainwashing them into thinking that what these acts are a duty and will lead them to heaven."
"What they are doing is far from the principles of Islam and the righteous ancestors and the prophet Mohammed who called for tolerance," she said.
Subscribe to our newsletter and get Magharebia's latest articles delivered to your inbox.