November 26, 2015 / 1:08 PM / 4 years ago

Tunisia identifies bus suicide bomber as Tunisian national

Tunisian forensics police inspect a Tunisian presidential guard bus at the scene of a suicide bomb attack in Tunis, Tunisia November 25, 2015. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian authorities have identified as a Tunisian national the suicide bomber from Tuesday’s bus attack which killed 12 presidential guards, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

Islamic State has claimed the bombing, the third major militant attack in Tunisia this year following assaults on a beach resort at Sousse and the Bardo museum in the capital, both of which targeted foreign visitors.

Interior Minister Najem Gharselli named Tuesday’s attacker as Houssem Abdelli, 28, a street seller who lived near Ettadhamen, one of the poorer neighborhoods of Tunis. She gave no details of any ties he might have had to Islamist militant groups.

Authorities said 12 guards died in the blast of Semtex explosive located in a belt the bomber was wearing when he detonated it stepping on the bus on Mohamed V Avenue, one of the capital’s main streets.

Compared with neighbors Libya and Egypt, Tunisia has largely been a haven of stability since 2011, when an uprising ousted autocrat Zine Abidine Ben Ali. It has a formulated a new constitution, held free elections and established a political framework that has found room for both secular and Islamist parties.

But Islamist militants now pose a serious challenge for a country heavily reliant on tourism for its hard currency.

Several thousands Tunisians are fighting with Islamic State and other groups in Iraq and Syria, and the gunmen in the Sousse and Bardo Museum attacks all trained at Jihadist camps in Libya.

Reporting by Tarek Amara; writing by Patrick Markey; editing by John Stonestreet

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