Daesh (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack. Four gunmen shot 20 tourists dead after trying to storm the Tunisian Parliament. PM fears attack will affect tourism.
Daesh (ISIS) claimed responsibility on Thursday afternoon for the attack in an online audio recording, which praised the two “knights of the Islamic State” who were armed with machineguns and bombs.
Meanwhile, 9 people were arrested the day after the attack. “Security forces were able to arrest four people directly linked to the [terrorist] operation and five suspected of having ties to the cell,” the president’s office said.
Tunisian troops were deployed to major cities. “After a meeting with the armed forces, the president has decided large cities will be secured by the army”.
MOST VICTIMS WERE TOURISTS
In an interview with French radio station RTL, Habib Essid explained that security services had identified the attackers (2 of them were killed), but it was not yet clear to which organisation the men belonged. The hunt was on for three suspects whom the Tunisian government said are linked to the deadly terrorist attack at a museum in the North African nation's capital.
The 20 foreign victims were tourists from Italy, Germany, Poland, Spain, France, Japan, Colombia and Australia. 3 other victims were Tunisians, a policeman and an employee of the Bardo archeological museum.
Witnesses said attackers came out of a nearby mosque and shot at a bus before entrenching themselves in the gardens between the Bardo Museum and the Parliament building.
The attackers first targeted the Parliament, but were repelled by security forces. Parliament was in session at the time.
Pro-ISIS (Daesh) Twitter accounts hailed the attack as “ghazwat Tunis” or the “raid of Tunis” (ghazwa is the description given to the early Islamic battles) and have cheered on the attackers. A purported IS video from last December threatened attacks on Tunisia.
TERRORISTS HELD HOSTAGES FOR HOURS
Local television footage showed tourists fleeing to safety, escorted by security forces. They had been held for hours by the terrorists.
Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui told journalists that the attack involved "two or more terrorists armed with Kalashnikovs". A museum employee told Reuters the two attackers "opened fire on the tourists as they were getting off the buses before fleeing into the museum".
Speaking after the attack, Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi said the country was "in a war with terror".
"These monstrous minorities do not frighten us," he said in remarks broadcast on national TV. "We will resist them until the deepest end without mercy.”Democracy will win and it will survive."
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini offered her condolences to the victims' families, and said the EU would "fully support Tunisia in the fight against terrorism".
The UN Security Council issued a statement saying no terrorist action could reverse Tunisia's path towards democracy. The statement offered condolences to those affected by the attack, and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Meanwhile, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the US would "continue to stand with our Tunisian partners against terrorist violence".
The attack came days after the death of Ahmed Al-Rouissi, a Tunisian also known as Abu Zakariya Al-Tunisi, who led a contingent of Islamic State (Daesh) troops in Libya. He was killed in clashes with Libyan troops near the town of Sirte, a stronghold of followers of Muammar Gaddafi, the late Libyan strongman.
Tunisian commentators speculated there may be a connection between his death and Wednesday’s deadly attack. The attack could badly damage tourism, on which the country relies heavily.