herald

Friday 18 August 2017

17 tourists among the dead in terror attack on Tunisian museum

Attackers opened fire at a museum in Tunisia's capital, gunning down 17 tourists as dozens more sprinted to safety. At least 21 people were killed yesterday, including two gunmen, but some attackers may have escaped, authorities said.

The attack on the famed National Bardo Museum in Tunis was the first on a tourist site in years in Tunisia, a shaky young democracy that has struggled to keep Islamic extremist violence at bay.

It wasn't clear who the attackers were but security forces flooded the area. Tunisia's parliament building, next to the museum, was evacuated.

danger

Private television station Wataniya showed masked Tunisian security forces escorting dozens of tourists up nearby steps and away from the danger, as armed security forces pointed guns toward an adjacent building.

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid said 21 people were killed: 17 tourists, two gunmen, a Tunisian security officer and a Tunisian cleaning woman. The dead tourists came from Italy, Poland, Germany and Spain.

He said two or three of the attackers remained at large.

Several other people were reported wounded in the attack, including three Poles and at least two Italians. The Italian Foreign Ministry said 100 other Italians had been taken to a secure location.

Some of the Italians at the museum were believed to have been passengers aboard the Costa Fascinosa, a cruise liner making a seven-day trip of the western Mediterranean that had docked in Tunis.

Ship owner Costa Crociere confirmed that some of its 3,161 passengers were visiting the capital and that a Bardo tour was on the itinerary, but said it couldn't confirm how many, if any, passengers were in the museum at the time.

extremists

Yesterday's attack was a blow to Tunisia's efforts to revive its crucial tourism industry.

The National Bardo Museum, built in a 15th-century palace, is the largest museum in Tunisia and houses one of the world's largest collections of Roman mosaics among its 8,000 works.

Tunisia recently completed a rocky road to democracy after overthrowing its authoritarian president in 2011.

A disproportionately large number of Tunisian recruits - some 3,000, according to government estimates - have joined Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq.

hnews@herald.ie

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