Tunisia's president declares state of emergency after hotel attack

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Tunisia Declares State of Emergency After Hotel Attack

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi declared a state of emergency on Saturday, saying the Islamist militant attack on a beach hotel that killed 38 foreigners had left the country "in a state of war".

Last week's attack, three months after the deadly Islamist assault on the Bardo museum in Tunis, has shocked the North African country emerging into a democracy following its 2011 "Arab Spring" uprising.

Tunisia's emergency laws temporarily give the government more executive flexibility, hand the army and police more authority, and restrict certain rights such as those dealing with public assembly and detention.

Images from the Tunisia beach resort attacks:

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Tunisia's president declares state of emergency after hotel attack
A man kisses a Tunisian flag at the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 28, 2015. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility on June 27 for the massacre in the seaside resort that killed nearly 40 people, most of them British tourists, in the worst attack in the country's recent history. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 28: Flowers and tributes are left at Marhaba beach near to where 38 people were killed on Friday in a terrorist attack on June 28, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Sousse beaches remain quiet following the Tunisia beach attack which left 38 dead, including at least 15 Britons while numerous tourists returned to the UK with more set to follow in the coming days. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 28: A candle and flowers are left at Marhaba beach near to where 38 people were killed on Friday in a terrorist attack on June 28, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Sousse beaches remain quiet following the Tunisia beach attack which left 38 dead, including at least 15 Britons while numerous tourists returned to the UK with more set to follow in the coming days. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A flower lays on a beach was the site of a shooting attack in Sousse, Tunisia, Saturday, June 27, 2015. The morning after a lone gunman killed dozens of people at a beach resort in Tunisia, busloads of tourists are heading to the nearby Enfidha-Hammamet airport hoping to return to their home countries. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 27: A woman grieves as she lay flowers at the beach next to the Imperial Marhaba Hotel where 38 people were killed yesterday in a terrorist attack on June 27, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Habib Essid Prime Minister of Tunisia announced a clampdown on security after the attack on a holiday resort.. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Tourists mourn at the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 28, 2015. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility on June 27 for the massacre in the seaside resort that killed nearly 40 people, most of them British tourists, in the worst attack in the country's recent history. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Flower bouqets are seen at the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 28, 2015. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility on June 27 for the massacre in the seaside resort that killed nearly 40 people, most of them British tourists, in the worst attack in the country's recent history. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 27: People view flowers placed at the beach next to the Imperial Marhaba Hotel where 38 people were killed yesterday in a terrorist attack on June 27, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Habib Essid Prime Minister of Tunisia announced a clampdown on security after the attack on a holiday resort.. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 28: Tourists carry a Tunisian flag along Marhaba beach where 38 people were killed on Friday in a terrorist attack on June 28, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Sousse beaches remain quiet following the Tunisia beach attack which left 38 dead, including at least 15 Britons. Around 1,000 tourists returned to the UK with more set to follow in the coming days. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 28: Holidaymakers view flowers left on Marhaba beach where 38 people were killed on Friday in a terrorist attack on June 28, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Sousse beaches remain quiet following the Tunisia beach attack which left 38 dead, including at least 15 Britons. Around 1,000 tourists returned to the UK with more set to follow in the coming days. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Camels are seen walking past flower bouquets at the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 28, 2015. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility on June 27 for the massacre in the seaside resort that killed nearly 40 people, most of them British tourists, in the worst attack in the country's recent history. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 28: Armed police on patrol on Marhaba beach pass by tributes left to the 38 people killed on Friday in a terrorist attack on June 28, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Sousse beaches remain quiet following the Tunisia beach attack which left 38 dead, including at least 15 Britons. Around 1,000 tourists returned to the UK with more set to follow in the coming days. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Tourists look at flowers at the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 28, 2015. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility on June 27 for the massacre in the seaside resort that killed nearly 40 people, most of them British tourists, in the worst attack in the country's recent history. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 28: Tourists carry a Tunisian flag along Marhaba beach where 38 people were killed on Friday in a terrorist attack on June 28, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Sousse beaches remain quiet following the Tunisia beach attack which left 38 dead, including at least 15 Britons. Around 1,000 tourists returned to the UK with more set to follow in the coming days. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Tourists mourn at the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 28, 2015. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility on June 27 for the massacre in the seaside resort that killed nearly 40 people, most of them British tourists, in the worst attack in the country's recent history. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 27: A man and woman place flowers at the beach next to the Imperial Marhaba Hotel where 38 people were killed yesterday in a terrorist attack on June 27, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Habib Essid Prime Minister of Tunisia announced a clampdown on security after the attack on a holiday resort. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Tourists take part in a gathering in solidarity with Tunisia's tourism industry, on June 29, 2015 on the island of Djerba, following a deadly gun attack at a holiday resort near Sousse. Tunisia said it had made its first arrests after a beach massacre on June 26 that killed 38 people, as European officials paid tribute to victims of the country's worst jihadist attack. AFP PHOTO / FETHI NASRI (Photo credit should read FETHI NASRI/AFP/Getty Images)
British Home Secretary Theresa May (2nd L), Tunisian Interior Minister Mohamed Najem Gharsalli (C), German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere (2nd R) and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (R) give a press conference in the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 29, 2015. Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May vowed that 'the terrorists will not win' after paying tribute in Tunisia to the 38 people, mainly Britons, killed by a jihadist gunman. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
(L to R bottom) French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, Tunisian Interior minister Mohamed Najem Gharsalli and British Home Secretary Theresa May lay flowers on the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 29, 2015. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility on June 27 for the massacre in the seaside resort that killed nearly 40 people, most of them British tourists, in the worst attack in the country's recent history. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
WALSALL, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Flowers and football tributes are laid outside Walsall Football Club in memory of, Adrian Evans, Patrick Evans and Joel Richards who were among 38 people who killed in a terrorist attack in Sousse, Tunisia on June 29, 2015 in Walsall, England. Owen Richards, aged 16, was injured in the attack but witnessed his brother Joel, 19, uncle Adrian, 49, and grandad Patrick Evans, 79, being killed by the gunman. A total of 38 people, the majority of them British, were killed by a gunmen in an attack on a beach in the Tunisian resort of Sousse. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A British resident of Sousse, who refused to be identified, reacts during a gathering at the scene of the attack in Sousse, Tunisia, Sunday, June 28, 2015. The Friday attack on tourists at a beach is expected to be a huge blow to Tunisia's tourism sector, which made up nearly 15 percent of the country's gross domestic product in 2014. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
A women holds candle during a protest against terrorism in Sousse, Tunisia, Saturday, June 27, 2015. The morning after a lone gunman killed at tens of people at a beach resort in Tunisia, busloads of tourists are heading to the nearby Enfidha-Hammamet airport hoping to return to their home countries. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
An unidentified tourist reacts as she passes next to the scene of Friday's shooting attack in the coastal town of Sousse, Tunisia, Sunday, June 28, 2015. The Friday attack on tourists at a beach is expected to be a huge blow to Tunisia's tourism sector, which made up nearly 15 percent of the country's gross domestic product in 2014. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
Flowers are laid at the scene of Friday's shooting attack in the coastal town of Sousse, Tunisia, Saturday, June 27, 2015. Tunisia's prime minister announced on Saturday a string of new security measures including closing renegade mosques and calling up army reservists as thousands of tourists fled the North African country in wake of its worst terrorist attack ever. Tourists crowded into the airport at Hammamet near the coastal city of Sousse where a young man dressed in shorts on Friday pulled an assault rifle and grenades out of his beach umbrella and killed 38 people, mostly tourists. (AP Photo/Leila Khemissi)
Flowers at the scene of the shooting in Sousse, Tunisia, Saturday, June 27, 2015. The morning after a lone gunman killed tens of people at a beach resort in Tunisia, busloads of tourists are heading to the nearby Enfidha-Hammamet airport hoping to return to their home countries. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A candle and a note in German reading, "Mourning cannot be seen, not heard, can only be felt. It is a fog without contour. One would like to grasp this fog and pull it away. But the hand grabs into emptiness", at the scene of Friday's shooting attack in Sousse, Tunisia, Saturday, June 27, 2015. The morning after a lone gunman killed dozens of people at a beach resort in Tunisia, busloads of tourists are heading to the nearby Enfidha-Hammamet airport hoping to return to their home countries. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A British family, who witnessed the beach massacre by a jihadists gunman the previous week, lay flowers at the site of the attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 30, 2015. Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi has admitted security services were not prepared for the beach attack, as authorities warned the country is likely to lose more than half-a-billion dollars in tourism revenues. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
A British family, who witnessed the beach massacre by a jihadists gunman the previous week, mourn as they lay flowers at the site of the attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 30, 2015. Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi has admitted security services were not prepared for the beach attack, as authorities warned the country is likely to lose more than half-a-billion dollars in tourism revenues. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
WALSALL, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Flowers and football tributes are laid outside Walsall Football Club in memory of, Adrian Evans, Patrick Evans and Joel Richards who were among 38 people who killed in a terrorist attack in Sousse, Tunisia on June 29, 2015 in Walsall, England. Owen Richards, aged 16, was injured in the attack but witnessed his brother Joel, 19, uncle Adrian, 49, and grandad Patrick Evans, 79, being killed by the gunman. A total of 38 people, the majority of them British, were killed by a gunman in an attack on a beach in the Tunisian resort of Sousse. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Flower bouquets are seen at the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 29, 2015. Tunisia said it had made its first arrests after a beach massacre that killed 38 people, as European officials paid tribute to victims of the country's worst jihadist attack. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
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"Due to the terrorism risk, and the regional context, and spread of terrorism, we have declared a state of emergency," Essebsi said in a televised address.

"The continued threat we face leaves the country in a state of war, where we have to use all measures necessary."

A Tunisian gunman, said to have been trained in a jihadist camp across the border in Libya, opened fire killing foreign tourists, mostly Britons, in the resort of Sousse on June 26.

The beach massacre struck a huge blow to Tunisia's tourism industry, prompting thousands of holidaymakers to leave and causing an estimated $500 million in losses for a sector that makes up seven percent of the economy.

Authorities have moved to close down 80 mosques they said were operating illegally or spreading extremism which officials say helps recruit young Tunisians to Islamist militancy.

Tunisia last had a state of emergency during the 2011 uprising against autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. That revolt followed years of upheaval between secular and Islamist parties in one of the Arab world's most secular countries.

Tunisia has since been hailed as a model of peaceful democratic transition in the region. But it has also struggled with the rise of Islamist movements, some opposed to democracy and bent on violence.

LIBYA CONNECTION

More than 3,000 Tunisians have left to fight overseas in Iraq, Syria and Libya for Islamic State or other militant groups. Some have threatened to return home to carry out attacks inTunisia.

Tunisian authorities believe militant group Ansar al-Sharia is responsible for orchestrating the attack on the Imperial Marhaba hotel. The gunman, Saif Rezgui, a young student, gave little clues to his radicalisation before he attacked.

"For the moment, this was Ansar al-Sharia who were behind this," said the Tunisian security source.

Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for the hotel massacre. Islamic State also claimed the Bardo attack, but authorities linked that attack to the local Okba Ibn Nafaa brigade.

Tunisian officials say all three gunmen in the two attacks were trained at the same time in jihadist camps over the border in Libya, where factional turmoil has allowed Islamist militant groups to gain ground.

Ansar al-Sharia and Okba Ibn Nafaa are tied to the al Qaeda franchise. But experts say that, as in other regions, younger fighters and recruits may be breaking away from those groups, inspired more by the recent victories and propaganda of Islamic State.

(Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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