Apparent suicide attack on Tunisian presidential guard bus kills 12

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11 Killed in Tunisian Bus Explosion

At least 12 people were killed on Tuesday when an explosion tore through a bus full of Tunisian presidential guards in an attack that one source said was probably the work of a suicide bomber.

Ambulances rushed wounded from the scene and security forces closed off streets around Mohamed V Avenue, one of the main streets in the capital Tunis, where the charred wreckage of the bus lay, not far from the Interior Ministry.

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It was the third major attack in Tunisia this year, after an Islamist militant killed 38 foreigners at a beach hotel in the resort of Sousse in June, and gunmen killed 21 tourists at the Bardo Museum in Tunis in March. Islamic State claimed both those attacks.

Security sources said the guards were boarding the bus to be taken to the presidential palace on the outskirts of the city when it blew up. One presidential source said it was likely that a bomber had detonated his explosive belt inside the bus.

Photos from the scene:

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Apparent suicide attack on Tunisian presidential guard bus kills 12
A man walks past the bus that exploded Tuesday in Tunis, Wednesday Nov.25, 2015. Tunisia's president declared a 30-day state of emergency across the country and imposed an overnight curfew for the capital Tuesday after an explosion struck a bus carrying members of the presidential guard, killing at least 12 people and wounding 20 others. (AP Photo)
TUNIS, TUNISIA - NOVEMBER 25: Tunisian security forces inspect the area after bomb exploded in the capital of Tunisia on Tuesday near a police car belonging to the Tunisian presidency in Tunis, Tunisia on November 25, 2015. Twelve police officers were killed while 17 others were injured in the blast in Tunis, according to a statement issued by the presidency. (Photo by Amine Landoulsi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Tunisian forensic police inspect the wreckage of a bus in the aftermath of a bomb attack on the vehicle which was transporting Tunisia's presidential guard in central Tunis on November 25, 2015. Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi declared a nationwide state of emergency and a curfew in the capital after a bomb attack on the presidential guard bus killed at least 12 people. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID / AFP / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
A hooded police officer prevents media from aproaching the scene of a bus explosion in the center of the capital, Tunis, Tunisia, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. An explosion struck a bus carrying members of Tunisia's presidential guard in the country's capital Tuesday, killing at least 12 people and wounding more than a dozen others in what the Interior Ministry called a "terrorist act". (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)
An ambulance rushes to the scene of a bus explosion in the center of the capital, Tunis, Tunisia, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. An explosion hit a bus carrying members of Tunisiaâs presidential guard in the countryâs capital Tuesday, killing at least 12 people in what the Interior Ministry called a âterrorist actâ. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)
Ambulances and police vans are seen at the scene of a bus explosion in the center of the capital, Tunis, Tunisia, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. An explosion hit a bus carrying members of Tunisiaâs presidential guard in the countryâs capital Tuesday, killing at least 12 people in what the Interior Ministry called a âterrorist actâ. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)
An ambulance rushes to the scene of a bus explosion in the center of the capital, Tunis, Tunisia, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. An explosion struck a bus carrying members of Tunisia's presidential guard in the country's capital Tuesday, killing at least 12 people and wounding more than a dozen others in what the Interior Ministry called a "terrorist act". (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)
Family members of victims of a bomb blast on a bus transporting Tunisia's presidential guard in central Tunis on November 24, 2015, react at the site of the attack. The explosion, described as an 'attack' by presidential spokesman Moez Sinaoui, struck on the capital's Mohamed V Avenue, a ministry official told AFP. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID / AFP / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
Family members of victims of a bomb blast on a bus transporting Tunisia's presidential guard in central Tunis on November 24, 2015, react at the site of the attack. The explosion, described as an 'attack' by presidential spokesman Moez Sinaoui, struck on the capital's Mohamed V Avenue, a ministry official told AFP. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID / AFP / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
Tunisian police console a family member of one of the victims of a bomb blast on a bus transporting Tunisia's presidential guard in central Tunis on November 24, 2015, which killed at least 12 people and wounded 16, the interior ministry said. The explosion, described as an 'attack' by presidential spokesman Moez Sinaoui, struck on the capital's Mohamed V Avenue, a ministry official told AFP. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID / AFP / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
Tunisian police console a family member of one of the victims of a bomb blast on a bus transporting Tunisia's presidential guard in central Tunis on November 24, 2015, which killed at least 12 people and wounded 16, the interior ministry said. The explosion, described as an 'attack' by presidential spokesman Moez Sinaoui, struck on the capital's Mohamed V Avenue, a ministry official told AFP. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID / AFP / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
Tunisian police block the road leading to the site of an explosion on a bus transporting Tunisia's presidential guard in central Tunis on November 24, 2015, which killed at least 12 people and wounded 16, the interior ministry said. The explosion, described as an 'attack' by presidential spokesman Moez Sinaoui, struck on the capital's Mohamed V Avenue, a ministry official told AFP. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID / AFP / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
Tunisian police block the road leading to the site of an explosion on a bus transporting Tunisia's presidential guard in central Tunis on November 24, 2015, which killed at least 12 people and wounded 16, the interior ministry said. The explosion, described as an 'attack' by presidential spokesman Moez Sinaoui, struck on the capital's Mohamed V Avenue, a ministry official told AFP. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID / AFP / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
Tunisian police console a family member of one of the victims of a bomb blast on a bus transporting Tunisia's presidential guard in central Tunis on November 24, 2015, which killed at least 12 people and wounded 16, the interior ministry said. The explosion, described as an 'attack' by presidential spokesman Moez Sinaoui, struck on the capital's Mohamed V Avenue, a ministry official told AFP. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID / AFP / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
Tunisian police block the road leading to the site of an explosion on a bus transporting Tunisia's presidential guard in central Tunis on November 24, 2015, which killed at least 12 people and wounded 16, the interior ministry said. The explosion, described as an 'attack' by presidential spokesman Moez Sinaoui, struck on the capital's Mohamed V Avenue, a ministry official told AFP. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID / AFP / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
TUNIS, TUNISIA - NOVEMBER 24: Tunisian Police take security measures after an explosion caused by a bomb attack in a Police bus in Tunis, Tunisia on November 24, 2015. At least 11 people dead and at least 14 others wounded due to explosion. (Photo by Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
TUNIS, TUNISIA - NOVEMBER 24: Tunisian Police take security measures after an explosion caused by a bomb attack in a Police bus in Tunis, Tunisia on November 24, 2015. At least 11 people dead and at least 14 others wounded due to explosion. (Photo by Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
TUNIS, TUNISIA - NOVEMBER 24: Tunisian Police take security measures after an explosion caused by a bomb attack in a Police bus in Tunis, Tunisia on November 24, 2015. At least 11 people dead and at least 14 others wounded due to explosion. (Photo by Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
TUNIS, TUNISIA - NOVEMBER 24: Tunisian Police take security measures after an explosion caused by a bomb attack in a Police bus in Tunis, Tunisia on November 24, 2015. At least 11 people dead and at least 14 others wounded due to explosion. (Photo by Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
TUNIS, TUNISIA - NOVEMBER 24: Tunisian Police and Fire Department take security measures after an explosion caused by a bomb attack in a Police bus in Tunis, Tunisia on November 24, 2015. At least 11 people dead and at least 14 others wounded due to explosion. (Photo by Mohamed Mdalla/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
TUNIS, TUNISIA - NOVEMBER 24: Tunisian Police take security measures after an explosion caused by a bomb attack in a Police bus in Tunis, Tunisia on November 24, 2015. At least 11 people dead and at least 14 others wounded due to explosion. (Photo by Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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"I was on Mohamed V, just getting ready to get into my car, when there was a huge explosion. I saw the bus blow up. There were bodies and blood everywhere," said bystander Bassem Trifi.

At least 12 guards were killed and 17 wounded, according to an Interior Ministry statement.

President Beji Caid Essebsi canceled a trip to Europe and said Tunis would be placed under curfew until Wednesday 5 a.m. (0400 GMT). He reinstated a month-long state of emergency, temporarily giving the government more executive flexibility, security forces more powers, and restricting some civil rights.

Mohamed V is a major boulevard usually packed with traffic and pedestrians, and the site of several hotels and banks.

Fighting Islamist militants has become a major challenge for Tunisia, a small North African country that was hailed as a blueprint for democratic change in the region after an uprising in 2011 ousted autocrat Zine Abidine Ben Ali.

Tunisia has held free elections and is operating under a new constitution and a broad political consensus, for which secular and Islamist parties have managed to overcome deep disagreements.

But several thousand Tunisians have also left to fight in Syria, Iraq and Libya with Islamic State and other militant groups, and some have threatened to carry out attacks at home.


The army has also been fighting against another Islamist militant group in the mountains near the Algerian border. Militants have attacked checkpoints and patrols in rural areas in the past.

In September, the government received intelligence reports pointing to possible car bombings in the capital and banned traffic in parts of the city.

This month, authorities arrested 17 Islamist militants and said they had prevented another major assault, planned for November, on hotels and security forces in Sousse.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara and Mohamed Argoubi; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Kevin Liffey and John Stonestreet)

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