TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia’s National Bardo Museum reopened to the public Monday again for the first time since extremist gunmen opened fire on foreign tourists earlier this month, killing 22 people in the country’s worst attack on civilians in 13 years.
The government says the man considered the “operational chief” of the assault was killed in a security raid Saturday. Two gunmen were killed the day of the March 18 attack in Tunis, which was a blow to Tunisia’s fledgling democracy and its tourism industry.
“Welcome to Bardo” read a large sign at the museum entrance in Arabic, English and French at its reopening Monday.
A small but steady flow of visitors came, walking past flowers laid in honor of the victims and flags of their many nationalities.
The country’s largest museum, renowned for richly colorful Roman mosaics, houses 8,000 works and is a top destination for European cruise ship passengers and other tourists.
Curator Moncef ben Moussa told The Associated Press that a team of experts is working on repairs at the museum after the attack. One bronze sculpture and one mosaic suffered slight damage, and some glass cases were broken.
“This museum will always hold the story and the passage of this terrible moment we lived, of the victims who fell during this terrorist attack,” Tourism Minister Selma Elloumi Rekik said. “Now we want to see the positive — Tunisia is open to visitors.”
Lebanese tourist Vola Abboud said, “When you see this special art people did, the people’s history, when they loved the art and architecture, and now you see the ‘ugly people,’ this is what they did. … I feel the spirits of the people who died, their souls.”
Benjamin Wiacek contributed to this report.