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Terror strikes Tunis

At least 17 foreign tourists were killed in a shocking attack on the National Bardo Museum.

Tunisian security forces deployed Wednesday outside the National Bardo Museum. (AFP/Fethi Belaid)

BEIRUT – Armed men attacked the famed National Bardo Museum in Tunisia’s capital on Wednesday, killing at least 19 people and taking a number of hostages before being killed themselves in a security raid. 

 

Shortly after 1 pm heavy gunfire erupted near Tunisia’s parliament, which sits adjacent to the museum, as lawmakers sat for a legislative committee meeting.

 

The owner of grocery shop in front of the museum told a local Tunisian news outlet that terrorists clad in military uniforms had entered the museum through its main entrance.

 

“The terrorists were able to enter without obstruction by anyone as they were wearing military uniforms,” he told Assabah news.

 

The witness added that the two men had “opened fire on the tourist buses in the square before entering the museum.”

 

Situated in a 19th century palace, the Bardo museum is one of Tunisia’s top tourist attraction and boasts a collection of Roman mosaics.

 

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid announced that 19 people were killed, including 17 tourists, while 24 others were injured in the first terrorist attack on a Tunisian tourist site since a 2013 suicide bombing in the resort town of Sousse.

 

The Interior Ministry's spokesperson confirmed that the terrorists had also taken hostages, but added that security forces had managed to evacuate “around 100 tourists” and that a far fewer number of people were still trapped inside.

 

The security forces later raided the museum, killing the two hostage takers and freeing all the hostages in an operation that also left one of the officers dead.

 

Many are taking opportunities to undermine our homeland. We will act relentlessly, without mercy, Tunisia's premier said in a speech in which he called on all his country's people to unite together to fight terrorism.  

Tunisian security forces deployed Wednesday outside the National Bardo Museum. (AFP/Fethi Belaid)

The terrorists were able to enter without obstruction by anyone as they were wearing military uniforms.