Tunisian forensics inspect the site of a suicide attack in the Tunisian capital Tunis. Image Credit: AFP

TUNIS: A suicide bomber blew herself up on a busy Tunis avenue on Monday afternoon, killing herself and wounding nine other people, mostly police officers, Tunisia's Interior Ministry said.

The 30-year-old woman set off the blast just before 2 pm in the Tunisian capital's popular Habib Bourguiba avenue, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Sofiene Zaag, quoted by the TAP news agency.

Police and firemen gathering at the site of a suicide attack in the centre of the Tunisian capital Tunis. AFP

In a statement, the Interior Ministry said that the suicide bomber, who was not previously known to authorities, blew herself up near a police patrol. It said eight police officers and one civilian were wounded. Apart from the bomber, there have been no further reported deaths. 

An AP reporter at the scene saw many ambulances arriving to take the wounded to hospitals. The avenue, as well as several adjacent streets, was cordoned off by police.

Zaag was quoted by TAP as saying the explosion took place in front of Tunis' city theatre. Habib Bourguiba avenue is considered the cultural, political and economic heart of Tunis - and is sometimes called Tunisia's Champs Elysees.

People gather near the site of an explosion in the center of the Tunisian capital Tunis Reuters

Tunisian radio station Mosaique FM said Interior Minister Hichem Fourati was on his way to the scene. It said the attacker was wearing a home-made bomb belt with a small quantity of explosives. The station cited a security source it did not name.

It said the bomber came from the Mahdia region of eastern Tunisia and was previously unknown to security services. It said security services raided her home after the attack.

Tunisian authorities have been on high alert in recent years following a spate of attacks including a deadly shooting in Tunis' Bardo National Museum in 2015 in which 22 people, including many European tourists, died.

In 2015, in a Daesh-claimed attack on a main Tunis road, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus carrying members of the Tunisian presidential guard, killing 12.