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Cafes and restaurants deserted as curfew hits Tunis

By AFP - Nov 28,2015 - Last updated at Nov 28,2015

TUNIS — Police patrols roam the deserted streets of the Tunisian capital at night after the authorities imposed a curfew in response to a suicide bombing that killed 12 presidential guards.

Shopkeepers and cafe owners are feeling the pinch from the 9pm to 5am curfew which has curtailed business in a city that usually bustles at night.

After Tuesday's attack claimed by the Daesh group, Tunisian authorities closed the border with militant hotbed Libya and imposed a 30-day nationwide state of emergency and an indefinite curfew in greater Tunis.

Rzouga, who sells dried fruit near Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the main thoroughfare in central Tunis, says he understands why the authorities imposed a curfew, but admits it is bad for business.

"If the curfew lasts for more than a week, I will not be able to pay" the shop's rent, he said.

Cafes, restaurants and bars that usually do a brisk trade in the evening are also feeling the heat.

By 7pm, they pull down their shutters to allow employees to get an early start home before the curfew begins.

The government has warned that the security measures will be strictly implemented.

"What happened was horrible and affected all of us," said Fadhel, owner of a bar just near where the attack took place.

He too says he agrees with the need to tighten security, but the night-time curfew has kept his clients away and financially he is suffering.

"It is at night that my bar fills up. But the past two days I have not earned a penny," complained Fadhel, who estimated his losses at nearly 4,000 dinars (just under 2,000 euros).

"It has really begun to worry me because I fear that the curfew will be extended," he added.

Issam, a waiter, is also upset because he is paid per night.

"When I don't work, there is no money, and therefore nothing to feed my family," he said.

"Because of a moron, a puppet of a terrorist organisation, we have to face the consequences," he said.

His bitterness is shared by many Tunisians who are unhappy with the curfew.

"We don't have a say in it but the truth is the curfew bothers us," said Jamel, who runs a bookshop.

"We must be patient but the authorities should not exaggerate," he added.

Social networks have also been abuzz with comments from people condemning what they say are security measures that undermine their "freedom of movement".

Many also question the need to impose a night-time curfew, noting that the attack took place in the late afternoon.

Authorities have identified the suicide bomber as Hussam Abdelli, a 26-year-old travelling salesman from Daouar Hicher, a Tunis suburb.

Tunisia, the cradle of the Arab Spring uprisings, has been plagued by Islamist violence since the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali, with three Daesh-claimed attacks this year alone.

But the curfew is the first in Tunis since June 2012.

 

This time the curfew has been compounded by rain which has been lashing Tunis and keeping clients away from the numerous cafes of Habib Bourguiba avenue.

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