Seventeen foreign tourists ‘hunted’ from cruise ship buses and shot dead in Tunisia: ‘Islamic’ gunmen open fire on popular museum before being shot dead themselves in dramatic police raid. Other terrorists are still believed to be at large.
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17 19 victims were foreigners, but local reports suggesting two were British are yet to be confirmed. Tunisian prime minister Habib Essid has now warned two or three gunmen involved in the attack may still be at large.
He described how the vulnerable tourists were ‘hunted down’ as they exited cruise ship buses to visit the popular museum in the country’s capital of Tunis, before two gunmen entered the museum to take dozens more hostage. He said: ‘The terrorist fired randomly as they got off the buses. As they fled, they were hunted and chased down.’
It is believed several hundred managed to flee the museum, while another 20 – 30 were taken captive before anti-terrorist security forces raided the building.
Mr Essid said 21 people were killed: 17 tourists, two gunmen, a Tunisian security officer and a Tunisian cleaning woman. He said the dead tourists came from Italy, Poland, Germany and Spain.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Islamic State militants, who have become particularly active in neighbouring Libya, were behind the attack.
She added: ‘The EU is determined to mobilise all the tools it has to fully support Tunisia in the fight against terrorism.’
Prime Minister Essid declared in a national address, thought to be reference to the country’s tourism industry: ‘All Tunisians should be united after this attack which was aimed at destroying the Tunisian economy.’
Mohamed Ali Aroui, an Interior Ministry spokesman, described the two attackers as ‘Islamists’ in local broadcasts, CNN reported.
Two heavily armed terrorists were believed to have been holed-up inside with Kalashnikovs and they entered the museum disguised as soldiers, said an Interior Ministry spokesman in Tunis.
A tweet sent from pro-ISIS Twitter accounts accurately predicted the Tunisia terror attack, raising the possibility the terror group were behind the atrocity.
Sent just hours before the gunmen opened fire on the popular museum tone tweet read: ‘Coming good news to Tunisia’s Muslims, and a shock to the disbelievers and the hypocrites, especially those who claim to be cultured.’
The tweet was sent from the account @riif0BA9, which regularly posts pro-ISIS messages, with particularly reference to militants originally from Tunisia.
When news of the attack spread online, the tweet was re-posted by numerous other ISIS sympathisers, many of whom also lavished praised on the gunmen’s choice of target.
‘The selected location has great impact upon the tyrants & crusaders, parliament & museum; heart of sovereignty and tourism,’ an ISIS support called @Ajnad30_moslim wrote.