Tunisia’s 92-year-old President Beji Caid Essebsi found himself in “critical condition” while double suicide attacks rocked the North African country’s capital on Thursday, killing one police officer and injuring several other people, including civilians.
Hours after news of the attacks surfaced, Tunisia’s presidential office reportedly revealed that Essebsi “was taken seriously ill and transferred to the military hospital in Tunis.”
The president’s trip to the health facility came after a brief hospitalization less than a week ago.
Via its Amaq news agency, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack, Reuters notes.
Tunisia’s Prime Minister Youssef Chahed referred to the bombings as “a cowardly terrorist operation [to] destabilize Tunisians, the economy and democratic transition,” conceding that the attacks took place while the tourist season was in full swing, according to France 24.
“I would like to reassure Tunisians that the president is receiving the necessary care,” he reportedly added in a Facebook post after visiting the president in the hospital, warning against the spread of “false and confusing information.”
Referring to the twin suicide bombings on Thursday, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency reports:
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.
“It was a suicide attack,” Sofiene Zaag, a spokesman for the country’s interior ministry, told AFP.
One of the attacks reportedly targeted a national guard base, judicial police, and a counterterrorism agency in the capital of Tunis.
The attack came during the peak of Tunisia’s tourist season.
“Tunisian officials have sought to reassure tourists after twin suicide bombings targeting security forces struck the country’s capital on Thursday, killing a patrol officer and injuring at least eight people,” France 24 reveals in a separate article.
ISIS has targeted tourists in Tunisia in the relatively recent past.
In 2015, the group claimed responsibility for deadly attacks on a museum (22 deaths) and a seaside resort (38 deaths) frequented by tourists.
Tunisia, in February of this year, sentenced seven jihadis linked to ISIS to life in prison for the attacks.