Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
 / Updated 
By Reuters

TUNIS — Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi declared a state of emergency on Saturday to give his government more powers following an Islamic militant attack on a beach hotel, where 38 foreign tourists, mostly Britons, were killed.

Tunisia's emergency law temporarily gives the government more executive flexibility, hands the army and police more authority, and restricts certain rights such as the right to public assembly.

The attack on the Sousse beach resort last Friday followed a gun attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis in March — two of the worst militant assaults in Tunisia's modern history, and a pressing threat to its vital tourist industry.

Tunisian officials say all three gunmen in those two attacks had been trained at the same time, over the border in jihadist camps in Libya, where a conflict between two rival governments has allowed Islamist militant groups to gain ground.

Tunisia last had a state of emergency during the 2011 uprising against autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

In reaction to militant recruiters, the government says it will close 80 mosques that are operating illegally or preaching extremist messages.

Related: Tunisia Attack: Did Gunman Rezgui Radicalize in Islamic Holy City?

Tunisian authorities believe militant group Ansar al-Sharia is responsible for orchestrating the attack against the Sousse hotel, which prompted thousands of tourists to leave Tunisia and is expected to cause $500 million in losses to the sector.

ISIS militants, though, have claimed the massacre on the Imperial Marhaba hotel a week ago when the gunman shot tourists as they sat at the beach and pool in the worst such militant attack in the country's modern history.