The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to southeastern Tunisia along the Libyan border as well as the mountainous areas in the country’s west due to the threat of terrorism.
A March 7 attack by ISIL-affiliated militants in the southeastern border town of Ben Guerdane resulted in the deaths of 12 Tunisian security officials and civilians. Isolated groups of militants continue to operate in the mountains of Western Tunisia, including Jebel Chaambi, Sammama, and Selloum.
Terrorist attacks have targeted Tunisian government and security forces and popular tourist sites. Two attacks in 2015 targeted tourists: the Bardo Museum in Tunis on March 18 and two beach hotels near Sousse on June 26. On November 24, 2015, a suicide bomber struck a bus carrying Tunisian Presidential Guard personnel on Avenue Mohammed V in central Tunis, killing 12 security personnel. ISIL claimed responsibility for these attacks. The Tunisian government continues security force operations against Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AAS-T), ISIL, and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Embassy Tunis travel regulations require advance notification to Embassy security officials of travel by Embassy personnel outside greater Tunis. Certain cities and governorates in Tunisia have a fluid and unpredictable security environment and travel to these areas requires additional scrutiny before U.S. government personnel may travel to them. These include, but are not limited to, the geographical areas adjacent to the border with Algeria (Jendouba, Kef, Kasserine); the Libyan border (Ben Gardane and Medenine) and central Tunisia (Gafsa and Sidi Bou Zid). Travel to these areas is only allowed for U.S. government personnel if deemed mission essential and should be avoided by U.S. citizens. On occasion, these restrictions prevent the movement of U.S. Embassy officials and the provision of consular services in certain areas of the country. The Embassy regularly reviews the security of these areas for possible modification.
For your safety:
- Avoid travel to southeastern Tunisia along the Libyan border as well as the mountainous areas in the country’s west.
- Exercise caution in all parts of Tunisia when frequenting public venues, especially those heavily frequented by tourists.
- Avoid political gatherings, rallies, large crowds and demonstrations, as even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can be unpredictable.
- Be alert to the possibility of kidnapping.
- Monitor local events and take appropriate steps to bolster personal security.
- Remain alert to local security developments, report suspicious activity to the local police, and heed directions given by uniformed security officials.
- Carry a copy of your passport and a cell phone or other means of communication that works in Tunisia.
On March 22, 2016, President Beji Caid Essebsi renewed Tunisia’s state of emergency until June 22. The state of emergency grants security forces more authority to maintain civil order, enabling the government to focus on combating terrorism. The Minister of Interior has stated that the state of emergency also assists in securing hotels and tourist areas.
Government security forces, including the army, police, and National Guard, are visibly present throughout Tunisia. Under the state of emergency, the Ministry of Interior is granted broad powers and may ban rallies and demonstrations. The Minister of Interior as well as local governors have the prerogative to put any individual under house arrest if considered a threat to national and public security, and to search houses and conduct other activities without requiring prior judicial authorization. Security personnel, including plain clothes officials, may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. It is against Tunisian law to photograph government offices and other security facilities.
Developments in Libya continue to affect the security situation along the border areas, and the Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya. Developments in Libya continue to affect the security situation at the ports of entry at Ras Jedir and Dehiba along with the cities of Ben Guardane and Medenine, and the Libyan border is frequently closed to all traffic with short notice for extended periods. Travelers should avoid all travel to and through the Libyan border, and should read the Department of State’s Travel Warning for Libya, as well as the Department of State’s Country Specific Information and other international travel safety and security information for Libya and Algeria. Travelers should consult local authorities before travelling to the Algerian border and read the Department of State’s Travel Warning for Algeria. Some crossings may be closed occasionally and access is strictly controlled by Tunisian and Algerian security forces.
Travelers contemplating trips to the interior of the Tunisia should assess local conditions and routes when making travel plans. In particular, all travel south of the designated military zone in the south must be coordinated in advance with Tunisian authorities. The Tunisian National Guard encourages persons traveling into the desert to register their travel beforehand. For details on how and where to register, please visit the U.S. Embassy’s desert travel page. No special authorization is required to travel to the desert as far south as Remada. The desert south of Remada is designated as a military zone by the Government of Tunisia. If travelers wish to enter the military zone, for example to travel to Borma, a special authorization is required. Please visit the U.S. Embassy’s desert travel page.
For further information:
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Tunisia.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Contact the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia located at North East Zone Berges du Lac, North of Tunis 2045 La Goulette, at +216 71 107 000, 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +216 71 107 000.
- Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.