Attacks by militants affiliated to Isis have killed scores in the North African country this year. In June 38 holidaymakers were shot dead when a gunman opened fire on the beach in the resort of Sousse. In March, attackers killed 21 tourists at the Bardo museum in Tunis.
Last week the Tunisian authorities said they had thwarted a major terrorist attack in Sousse and announced the arrest of 17 people and the seizure of weapons including Kalashnikovs, explosives and a bomb belt. The attack planned for this month would have targeted hotels, security facilities and politicians, they said.
Earlier this week the Tunisian interior ministry was reported to have informed Moncef Marzouki, the former president, that militants were planning to assassinate him.
Among Arab countries that witnessed uprisings against authoritarian rulers in 2011, Tunisia is the only one seen to have undergone a successful democratic transition.
Moderate Islamists and secular politicians were able to agree a compromise constitution, allowing the country to hold parliamentary and presidential elections last year. A coalition government including Islamists holds power. Four Tunisian civil society groups that mediated the agreement between the two sides salvaging the transition to democracy received this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
But the country has struggled with a faltering economy further stalled by terrorist attacks.
Militant groups targeting the army operate in Chaambi mountains on the country’s western border with Algeria. In recent days they beheaded a youth who was out herding livestock after accusing him of spying on them.
Radicalized youths drawn to Isis have also been traveling for training with militants in Syria and neighboring Libya, where the extremist group has established a foothold.
At least 3,000 Tunisians have traveled to Syria to fight with Isis, and in poor areas many youths say they know a neighbor or friend who has joined the terror group.