Authorities in Tunisia beefed up security Friday as the nation hosted its annual Independence Day celebrations, the Washington Post reported. Security forces were stationed at sites including the main Mediterranean port in the capital Tunis and the headquarters of Tunisia’s state radio amid fears of further attacks after gunmen allegedly aligned with the Islamic State group raided the National Bardo Museum and massacred 21 people Wednesday.
A rally to mark Tunisia’s Independence Day was planned for Friday. Meanwhile, demonstrators took to the streets to urge the Tunisian government to confront terrorism. The rallies echoed those that followed terror attacks in France in January, during which a total of 17 people were killed by gunmen at the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo magazine and at a kosher delicatessen. Some people, including French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, used the hashtag “Je suis Tunisien” ("I am Tunisian") on social media this week, to show solidarity with citizens of the North African nation, just as many people used the slogan "Je suis Charlie" as a tribute to the victims of the attacks in France.
â€” Manuel Valls (@manuelvalls) March 19, 2015
Tunisian authorities arrested nine people Thursday in connection with the museum massacre. Their alleged roles in the deadly attack remained unclear. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the terrorist raid. Newly elected Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi pledged to fight terrorism “without mercy,” according to BBC News.
Rights groups have expressed concern that Tunisian authorities would weaken freedoms such as freedom of speech and the right to demonstrate in an effort to stifle extremism. “Tunisian authorities should show through their response that their commitment to the rule of law is unshaken,” Eric Goldstein of Human Rights Watch, a nongovernmental organization based in Washington, said in a statement Thursday.