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37 dead in Tunisia hotel attacks: Ministry

37 dead in Tunisia hotel attacks: Ministry

Tunisia’s Interior Ministry says two gunmen opened fire on a beach in the coastal resort of Sousse Friday, killing at least seven people.

By (AP)

Published: Fri 26 Jun 2015, 6:25 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:07 PM

- Photo: english.alakhbar.com

TUNIS — Two gunmen rushed from the beach into a hotel in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse Friday, killing 37 people in the latest attack on the North African country’s key tourism industry, the Health Ministry said.

Wielding Kalashnikovs, the gunmen entered the Imperial Marhaba hotel from the beach, said Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui said. Security forces responded, killing one of the attackers, while the hunt for the second attacker is still ongoing, he said.

Quoting an interior minsitry official, AFP reported that the attacker was a Tunisian student unknown to police.

“A terrorist infiltrated the buildings from the back before opening fire on the residents of the hotel, including foreigners and Tunisians,” he told the state news agency.

Rafik Chelli, the secretary of state of the Interior Ministry, told The Associated Press that the attack was carried out by a young student not previously known to authorities. The rampage at the RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel ended when he was shot to death by police.

“He was certainly involved with certain extremists,” Chelli said.     

There were no details about the nationalities of the victims, but during the holy month of Ramadan Tunisia’s Muslim population is less likely to go the beach, so those there would have been predominantly foreign tourists. Local radio said most of the dead were German or British.

The rampage followed two other terror attacks Friday in France and in Kuwait City. Daesh claimed responsibility for an attack at a Shia mosque in Kuwait City that killed at least 16 people, while a man with ties to radicals rammed a car into a gas factory in southeastern France, where a severed head was also found on a post at the entrance.

British tourist Gary Pine told Sky News his son saw someone who got shot at the resort in Tunisia.

“There was a mass exodus off the beach,” he said, adding guests at his hotel were first told to lock themselves in their rooms, and later to gather in the lobby.

Elizabeth O’Brien, an Irish tourist on holiday with her two sons, told Irish Radio she was on the beach when she heard what she initially thought was fireworks.

“I thought ‘oh my God, it sounds like gunfire’, so I just ran to the sea to my children and grabbed our things,” she said, before fleeing to her hotel room.

Since overthrowing its secular dictator in 2011, Tunisia has been plagued by terror attacks — though only recently have they targeted the vital tourism sector.

In March, two gunmen attacked the national museum in Tunis killing at least 22 people, all but one tourists.

A group pledging allegiance to Daesh claimed that attack and has promised more in Tunisia.

Tourism is a major part of the Tunisian economy, especially in coastal resorts like Sousse and it suffered in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution.

With a return to stability and new elections in late 2014 it was slowly recovering, until the attack on the Bardo museum. The effect from that weighed on tourism receipts again: income from tourism in the first five months of 2015, was 15 percent less than the previous year.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy confirmed that one of the two beachside hotels where tourists were shot in Tunisia is owned by the Spanish company RIU.

The company’s media office said RIU’s board of directors was holding an emergency meeting following the attack. 

Arab Parliament slams Sousse attack in Tunisia

CAIRO – The Arab Parliament has strongly condemned the attack on the tourist resort city of Sousse, in Tunisia, by a terrorist group.

'This terrorist cowardly act which seeks to destabilise the security of Tunisia and hit tourism, is backed by agencies that fight the Arab and Islamic nation, and have nothing to do with religion or Arabism,' Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Jarwan, Speaker of the Arab Parliament, said in a statement today.

He added that terrorists will never succeed in destabilising Tunisia, which has set an example in maintaining stability, and it would overcome the crises with the determination of its loyal citizens and the leadership of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi.

'What do they get from killing innocent people in cold blood,' Jarwan wondered, slamming the terrorists for targetting tourist areas and innocent tourists.

'This heinous crime reflects the extent of the barbarism and melancholy thought this abhorrent terrorist group holds. We must all fight and stand in the face of terrorism,' he added.

On behalf of all Arab people, Al Jarwan extended deep condolences to the Tunisian President and the families of the victims who died during this cowardly attack.

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