A 30-year old woman blew herself up in the centre of Tunisian capital Tunis, wounding nine people including eight police in what the Interior Ministry called a “terrorist explosion”.
Witnesses described a blast on the central Habib Bourguiba avenue where hundreds of police later cordoned off an area near the capital’s landmark Municipal Theatre and the French embassy.
“I was in front of the theatre and heard a huge explosion,” witness Mohamed Ekbal bin Rajib told Reuters.
Ambulances could be heard rushing to the scene.
Shops were shut on the avenue, usually one of the busiest streets in the capital and the site of protests that toppled long-serving leader Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali at the start of the 2011 “Arab Spring” regional revolts.
The bomber had no previously known militant background, state news agency TAP said, citing the interior ministry.
Tunisia, heavily dependent on tourism, upped security since a series of militant attacks targeting tourists caused the near collapse of the sector three years ago.
In 2015, 21 people were killed during a hostage siege in the national museum, the Bardo in Tunis and a gunman killed 38 people on a resort beach. The following year, militants tried to capture the town Ben Guerdane near the Libyan border.
There have been no attacks on that scale since, but the economy remains troubled and authorities worry about militants in neighbouring Libya.
Tunisia is one of few Arab democracies and the only country to throw out a long-serving autocrat during the Arab Spring without triggering large scale unrest or civil war.
It has since been credited with a democratic transition, holding free elections and guaranteeing fundamental rights in a new constitution. Turmoil and militant attacks scare off tourists and investors, worsening an economic crisis caused by a chronic deficit.
Some 3,000 Tunisians joined Islamic State and other jihadist groups in Iraq, Syria and neighbouring Libya while dissent over unemployment has risen in recent years in southern and central areas.