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TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisia's president on Thursday lifted the state of emergency that has been in place since the outbreak of a popular revolution three years ago, and a top military chief said soldiers stationed in some of the country's most sensitive areas will return to their barracks.

The decree from President Moncef Marzouki said the state of emergency ordered in January 2011 is lifted across the country immediately.

The state of emergency was imposed by longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and was maintained after he was overthrown.

At the start it included a curfew and a ban on meetings of more than three people, but it has been relaxed over time. However, it has continued to give the military and police special powers to intervene in unrest or security threats.

Tunisia has been battling al-Qaida linked extremists since the revolution, but officials said the security situation has improved recently.

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