An unusual double terrorist attack in Tunisia leads Arab news on Thursday, amid reports that the Geneva II conference on Syria may be canceled due to the intransigence of both sides.
“Terrorism strikes at two tourist resorts in Tunisia,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, featuring a photo of police officers cordoning off the spot on the sandy beach in Sousse where a terrorist detonated himself on Wednesday.
The daily quotes security officials in Sousse saying that a dark-skinned man tried to break into one of the famous resorts in the city at around 9 a.m., but police prevented him from entering. A short while later, a loud explosion was heard, resulting in no casualties. Twenty kilometers from there, in the city of Monastir, police arrested a suicide attacker planning to detonate himself near the tomb of deceased president Habib Bourguiba, the founder of modern Tunisia, the daily reported.
London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi calls the attacks “the first of their kind since 2002 in a country fighting Islamist extremists taking advantage of the chaos in neighboring Libya.”
The daily reports that while no group has taken responsibility for the attacks, Tunisian police has arrested five suspects belonging to the banned extremist group Ansar Al-Shariah.
The headline of Al-Hayat, a London-based daily, reads “Tunisia: two suicide attacks for the first time after the revolution,” tying the attacks to Tunisia’s Tuesday crackdown on terrorist hotbeds in the Sidi Bouzid province, where the Arab Spring was ignited.
Al-Hadi Yahmad, an expert on Islamist groups in Tunisia, tells the daily that the capabilities and boldness of the Islamists have gradually grown, from targeting political personalities such as Mohammed Al-Brahami and Chokri Belaid, to fighting the army, to targeting civilians through suicide attacks.
“Shocking sights that Tunisians are not used to seeing in their country,” states the TV report by Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera, in an internet article headlined “Calls in Tunisia to confront ‘terrorism’ following the Soussa attack.” The report features gruesome images of the terrorist’s body parts scattered on the sandy beach.
“Will Tunisia fall?” wonders Al-Jazeera columnist Muhanna Al-Habil. He claims that two extremes — an Islamist and a secularist — are tearing the country apart.
“The secularist sectarianism is the active element today in exacerbating the crisis in Tunisia. It is met by the return to activity of groups belonging to the Salafi jihadist stream, constituting — paradoxically — the two wings of extremism in inflaming the national-political scene.”