Terrorism

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Tunisia and there have been a number of attacks in recent years. A state of emergency – in effect since a suicide attack on a police bus on 24 November 2015 – has been extended several times, most recently on 12 March 2018 by 7 months. You should be vigilant at all times and follow the advice of local security officials, including in and around religious sites. In more remote areas of the country, including tourist sites in southern Tunisia, security forces’ response times to an incident may vary.

There’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation. Additional security measures have been in place on flights departing from Tunisia to the UK since March 2017. You should co-operate fully with security officials.

The main terrorist threat is from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Libya-based extremists with links to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL). Despite some improvements in border security, Tunisia has a porous border with Libya, where there’s a continuing conflict, an absence of security, and where Islamist terrorist groups operate. Tunisian security forces have repeatedly been targeted in terrorist-related incidents, mainly in border areas including in the Chaambi Mountains.

Recent incidents include:

  • on 8 July 2018, militants attacked security forces near Ghardimaou, close to the Algerian border. A number of Tunisian National Guard officers were killed. This follows separate media reports in early July 2018 of Tunisian security forces disrupting a terrorist group in Hammamet
  • on 31 March 2018, 2 Western tourists including one British national were attacked by an individual with a knife in the town of El Kef, in northwest Tunisia. They suffered non-life threatening injuries and a suspect was detained by the Tunisian police
  • on 1 November 2017, 2 traffic police officers in the Bardo area of central Tunis were attacked by an individual with a knife. One of the officers later died from their wounds. A suspect was detained by security forces
  • on 11 May 2016, a number of suspected terrorists were killed or arrested during armed clashes with security forces in the Mnihla distric of greater Tunis and 4 national guards were also killed by a suicide bomb during a security operation in Tataouine in southern Tunisia

  • in early March 2016, security forces repelled attacks by terrorists in Ben Guerdane, close to the Libyan border; over 60 fatalities resulted, the majority of which were terrorists; members of the security forces and civilians were also killed

  • on 24 November 2015, 12 security personnel were killed in a suicide attack on a police bus on Avenue Mohammed V in central Tunis

  • on 26 June 2015, 38 foreign tourists were killed, including 30 British nationals, in a terrorist attack at Port El Kantaoui near Sousse

  • on 18 March 2015, 21 tourists were killed, including a British national, in a terrorist attack at the Bardo Museum in the centre of Tunis

The Tunisian authorities regularly report that they have disrupted planned attacks and terrorist cells, and made arrests. The Tunisian authorities have improved security in tourist resorts and their ability to respond to a terrorist incident. Tunisian security forces have also improved and are better prepared to tackle terrorist threats than they were at the time of the 2015 attacks. But further attacks remain likely, including in places visited by foreigners such as tourist resorts. Attacks may be carried out by individuals unknown to the authorities, whose actions may be inspired by terrorist groups.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time. Keep up to date with this travel advice, and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Kidnap

There is a threat of kidnapping by groups operating in North Africa, particularly from Libya, Mauritania and groups originating in the Sahel. This includes Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-IM) and Daesh-affiliated groups, who may travel across the region’s porous border. There is a heightened risk of kidnap in border and remote desert areas of North Africa. Terrorist groups have kidnapped foreigners, government officials and civilians in the region for financial gain and for political leverage. Further kidnaps are likely.

Those engaged in tourism, humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.