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State of Emergency Declared in Tunisia After 12 Killed in Bus Attack

Tunisian police officers stand guard after an attack on a military bus Nov. 24, 2015, in Tunis, Tunisia.

At least 12 people were killed in Tunisia's capital Tuesday when an explosion hit a bus carrying members of the country's elite presidential guard, the Interior Ministry said.

The blast occurred on the tree-lined avenue in the center of Tunis.

Security and presidential sources said the explosion was an attack, adding it was not immediately clear whether it was a bomb or an explosive fired at the bus as it traveled along Mohamed V Avenue. Ambulances rushed from the scene and security forces quickly sealed off the area.

President Beji Caid Essebsi on Tuesday declared a 30-day state of emergency across the country and imposed an overnight curfew on the Tunis region. He convened an emergency meeting of his security council for Wednesday morning.

Mohamed V Avenue, Tunis
Mohamed V Avenue, Tunis

Speaking on national television, he said Tunisia is at "war against terrorism," and urged international cooperation against extremists who have staged several deadly attacks in recent weeks.

"I want to reassure the Tunisian people that we will vanquish terrorism," he said.

The explosion came 10 days after authorities increased the security level in the capital and deployed security forces in unusually high numbers.

Earlier this month, Tunisian authorities announced the dismantling of a cell it said had planned attacks on police stations and hotels in the seaside city of Sousse, about 150 kilometers southeast of Tunis.

Tunisia's tourism industry has been hit hard this year following extremist attacks. Shootings at a luxury beach hotel in Sousse last June killed 38 people, mostly tourists, while in March an attack by Islamist extremists at Tunisia's famed Bardo museum near the capital killed 22 people.

The U.S. State Department issued the following statement:

The United States strongly condemns today’s terrorist attack in Tunis that targeted a bus carrying members of Tunisia’s security forces, killing at least 12 people. We extend our deepest sympathies to the victims’ families and have offered assistance with Tunisian authorities’ investigation.

Secretary Kerry was proud to stand with Tunisian leaders earlier this month in Tunis and reaffirm our countries’ extensive economic, governance, and security cooperation. We will continue to support the Tunisian people as they work to build a democratic and prosperous future for their country.