At least nine people have been wounded in a suicide bomb blast that rocked the centre of Tunisia‘s capital, Tunis, according to the interior ministry.
A 30-year-old suicide bomber detonated her explosives on Monday afternoon near Le Palmarium shopping centre on the busy Habib Bourguiba Avenue, said Sofiene Zaag, interior ministry spokesperson.
“Eight policemen and one civilian were wounded following this suicide attack,” he said, adding that the bomber was the only fatality.
Zaag said the injured were transferred to Hospital Charles Nicolle in Tunis and the military hospital.
According to Radio Mosaique FM, the bomber used a hand-made grenade containing small quantities of explosives.
Pictures published on the station’s social media platforms showed a veiled woman who appeared to be dead wearing dark trousers, a pink top and a short dark jacket with serious wounds on her left hip and stomach lying on the ground in a cordoned off area.
Ricardo Gonzalez, a Tunis-based journalist who lives near the site of the attack, said the explosion was not “very strong”.
“In fact, I had a doubt whether this was a bomb or maybe a car accident,” he told Al Jazeera.
“I went down to the street and saw many people moving towards the place where it had taken place. [As I got closer,] I saw several agents [security officers] lying on the ground and complaining about injuries.”
He also said some civilians were trying to give first aid to those wounded before the arrival of ambulances up to 10 minutes later.
The 2015 attacks decimated Tunisia’s crucial tourism sector [Fethi Belaid/AFP]
The busy avenue, which has many cafes and restaurants as well as hotels, has a regular security presence due to the proximity of government buildings.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Since the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, attacks in Tunisia have killed dozens of members of the security forces and foreign tourists.
In June 2015, 38 people were killed in a shooting rampage at the coastal resort of Sousse which targeted tourists, while an attack on the National Bardo Museum in Tunis the same year left 22 people dead.
The attacks decimated Tunisia’s crucial tourism sector, which made up seven percent of gross domestic product.
The country has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) armed group in Tunis killed 12 presidential guards.