Terrorists killed at least 19 people, including 17 foreigners, and wounded 22 others when they attacked a museum in Tunisia’s capital Tunis, according to the country’s prime minister.
In total, as many as 21 people were reportedly killed in the attack including 17 foreign tourists, two Tunisians, and two of the assailants. A Tunisian police officer is believed to be among the dead.
Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid revealed that there were foreigners from Italy, Germany, Poland, and Spain among the dead in the assault on the Bardo museum near parliament in central Tunis.
“Two terrorists disguised in military clothes got into the parliament building, then the museum where they attacked tourists. Nineteen people were killed including 17 foreign tourists. Twenty-two tourists are wounded,” reportedly said the Tunisian PM.
Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, provided similar figures to reporters today citing the Tunisian government as the source.
Psaki referred to the attack as a terrorist act. Federica Mogherini, the European Union foreign policy chief, also blamed “terrorist organizations” for the attack.
“The EU is determined to mobilize all the tools it has to fully support Tunisia in the fight against terrorism,” she added.
No specific terrorist group has claimed responsibility. Thousands of Tunisians are believed to be fighting on behalf of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.
Some of the gunmen are believed to be at large. As many as 5 masked men are believed have been involved in the attack.
Wearing military uniforms, the attackers stormed Tunisia’s national museum earlier today, reports Reuters.
The attack is considered one of the worst militant attacks in the country’s history.
Tunisian security forces stormed the museum, a former palace, hours after it was attacked, killing two militants and liberating other tourists who were being held captive inside, a government spokesman said, according to Reuters.
“All Tunisians should be united after this attack which was aimed at destroying the Tunisian economy,” said the country’s PM in a national address.
“Television footage showed dozens of people, including elderly foreigners and one man carrying a child, running for shelter in the compound, covered by security forces aiming rifles into the air,” reports Reuters.
“The attack on such a high-profile target is a blow for the small North African country that relies heavily on European tourism and has largely avoided major militant violence since its 2011 uprising to oust autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali,” it adds.
The “Arab Spring” revolts in Libya, Egypt, Syria, and Yemen were inspired by Tunisia’s uprising.
“Several Islamist militant groups have emerged in Tunisia since the uprising and authorities estimate about 3,000 Tunisians have also joined fighters in Iraq and Syria — raising fears they could return and mount attacks at home,” mentions Reuters.
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