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State visit

Bomb forces Tunisian president to cancel Swiss visit

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Tunisia’s president Beji Caid Essebsi has cancelled his official visit to Switzerland this week due to a deadly bomb attack against a bus carrying members of Tunisia’s presidential guard in the capital Tunis on Tuesday. 

The Tunisian president was due to travel to Switzerland on Wednesday and Thursday but cancelled the trip after an explosion struck a bus carrying members of Tunisia's presidential guard in the country's capital on Tuesday, killing at least 12 people and wounding more than a dozen others in what the Interior Ministry called a "terrorist act." 

Swiss justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga condemned the attack and expressed her sympathy to those concerned. A statement by her office said the Tunisian president had cancelled his visit with “great regret”.

The blast on a tree-lined avenue in the heart of Tunis is a new blow to a country that has struggled against Islamic extremist violence. Radical gunmen staged two attacks earlier this year that killed 60 people, devastated the tourism industry and rattled this young democracy. 

Police fanned out throughout central Tunis after Tuesday's explosion, and ambulances rushed to the scene, evacuating wounded and dead.

Tunisia's president has declared a state of emergency throughout the country and a curfew in the capital after the attack.

Beji Caid Essebsi said in a televised address that the country is at "war against terrorism" and called for international cooperation against extremists who have staged several attacks around the world in recent weeks.

During his visit to Switzerland, the Tunisian president was due to hold talks on the democratic transition in his country and cooperation with Switzerland, as well as issues such as immigration and terrorism. 

The issue of funds frozen in Switzerland were also due to be discussed. Switzerland is working to return $40 million to Tunisia, a "big slice" of the $60 million stashed during the era of former leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

swissinfo.ch with agencies


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