Tunis - Gunman shot dead 22 people — 20 foreign tourists and two Tunisians — and injured 54 today in an assault at the National Bardo Museum, near the country's parliament in Central Tunis, medical sources said on Tunisian National TV.
Tunis – Gunman shot dead 22 people — 20 foreign tourists and two Tunisians — and injured 54 today in an assault at the National Bardo Museum, near the country’s parliament in Central Tunis, medical sources said on Tunisian National TV.
Chief of government Habib Essid said earlier that the attack left 19 dead and 24 were injured. This is the first time that terrorists have targeted tourism in Tunisia.
“The Tourists had come from La Goulette on buses to visit the museum,” said Chief of Government Habib Essid. “While terrorists had previously targeted police and the army, it is the first time that they have targeted tourists. 19 died and 24 (among them two Tunisians) were injured. The war against terrorism is long,” Essid said, adding that 400 terrorists had been arrested recently.
The President of Tunisia, Béji Caid Essebsi, visited the scene and the victims in hospital. “This is a calamity,” he said. “Tunisia must eradicate these calamities from the map and focus on more mobilization.”
According to private radio station Mosaique FM, five terrorists, three of the men dressed in soldiers’ uniforms, participated in the action and took hostages inside the museum.
“My family was scared and shocked when they heard the news this morning. Now they are safe with the police presence and helicopters. The Bardo area is a very quiet area,” said Elyes Tekaya who lives next door to the museum and who had left for work just before the event occurred.
Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui said that security reinforcements were deployed around the Bardo Museum and tourists were evacuated from the building. The attack on the National Bardo Museum also prompted the evacuation of Tunisia’s nearby parliament building.
Aroui stated that injured tourists were rushed to hospital to receive necessary treatment.
The museum stands adjacent to the Assembly of People’s Representatives (the national Parliament) building and includes the world’s largest collection of Roman mosaics which are part of Tunisian heritage.
People are concerned about the negative repercussions of this terrorist incident on the Tunisian economy, especially on tourism. “We hope that our country remains safe,” said Haifa Missaoui who lives close to Bardo.
Charles Nicolle hospital received 10 injured victims. “Among the victims there are many Italians severely injured gun shot. The atmosphere here is very sad and frightening,” said a nurse in Charles Nicolle Hospital on the condition of anonymity.
The victims are from Great Britain, Poland, Italy, Spain, and Germany.
The number of terrorists in Tunisia has increased steadily since the so-called Arab Spring, but at the same time, Tunisia may still remain a stable country to visit. In 2014, Morocco’s King Mohamed VI walked with his family in the open on Habib Bourguiba Avenue during his visit to Tunisia,, an supporting Tunisia’s claim as a tourist destination.