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OSRX Guide 1: Using data to explore militant border attacks in Tunisia

Two weeks ago militants attacked an army barracks, police and National Guard posts on Tunisia’s border in Ben Guerdane. According to official figures the March 7th attack led to the deaths of twelve soldiers, seven civilians, and 49 militants. While there has been no official claim of responsibility for the attacks, authorities are blaming ISIS present in neighboring Libya. According to Reuters, militants used a megaphone to chant “God is Great,” exclaiming to residents that they were the Islamic State coming to save the town from the “tyrant” army.

It is unclear what the Islamic State’s intentions were, but this incident emphasizes the risk and vulnerability Tunisia faces from violence spilling over from neighboring countries.  

How can you use OSRx to find out what is happening on the ground in Ben Guerdane?

To explore the context in which events have unfolded in Tunisia, click “By Country” at the top of the OSRx home page, and select Tunisia from either the world map or list of countries. Next, scroll down to explore the following information on the real-time events map:



The GDELT map provides a visual analysis of news reports about violent events and protests for the past 7 days. Using the example of Tunisia, articles referencing both protests and violence against civilians are represented by the red and yellow dots on the maps in the location they occurred. Clicking the different dots will show you a list of hyperlinked news articles where you can read about the specific events.

This map below shows the protests and violence against civilians that were being reported on March 16, 2016:




The ACLED map provides a visual analysis capturing political violence data, including the specific dates and locations of the political violence, the types of events, the groups involved, facilities, and changes in territorial control for the past seven weeks.

The maps below shows the location and details of a student protest organized on March 10, 2016 in support of the armed forces and citizens of Ben Guerdane:




  • News Analytics Instability Timeline

This is a live-updated timeline depicting an “instability” measure or average tone for news coverage at the national level displayed in a day-level view over the last 180 days. The higher the line, the more unstable the country is according to global news coverage.

In the timeline below, we see that “instability” news coverage spiked during the Ben Guerdane attack in early March.



  • News Analytics Word Cloud

This word cloud is updated in real-time, and depicts the top themes of news media coverage related to conflict and violence.



  • Political Stability and Governance Timeline

This map displays a timeline of indicators of political stability, regime type, government effectiveness and forecasts political violence and governance for the country.

As shown here, political stability and governance have been on a steady decline in Tunisia since 2008-2009:


  • Violence and Instability in Social Media

These visuals provide a topic wheel and word cloud displaying the top themes of social media conversations over the past day, week, month or year. You can also capture the social media conversations from different regions.

The following visuals show the top themes from social media in Middle East and North Africa for the day of March 16, 2016 showing that “police,” “guerre,” “militaire,” and “#benguerdane” were the top words used. You can click on the Twitter Search link below these visualizations and explore the hashtag #BenGuerdane




  • Violence and Instability in Social Media

This graph displays a time series of the volume of social media conversation surrounding violence and instability emerging from the country.

The timeline below shows a steep increase in social media volume during the Ben Guerdane attack and a sharp decline afterwards:





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