South African killed in Tunis attack

2015-03-18 21:28
People are evacuated from the Bardo museum in Tunis. (Hassene Dridi, AP)

People are evacuated from the Bardo museum in Tunis. (Hassene Dridi, AP)

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Tunis - Tunisia's interior ministry on Wednesday evening confirmed that there was a South African among 20 tourists killed when gunmen attacked the national museum in Tunis.

There were also South Africans among the wounded, said Health Minister Said Aidi. 

AP earlier quoted Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid as saying two of the gunmen were shot dead, but that some of the attackers might have escaped.

The attack on the famed National Bardo Museum was the first on a tourist site in years in Tunisia. It wasn't clear who the attackers were, but security forces immediately flooded the area.

Tunisia's parliament building, next to the museum, was evacuated.

Private television Wataniya showed masked Tunisian security forces escorting dozens of tourists up nearby steps and away from the danger, as armed security forces pointed guns toward an adjacent building.

Many elderly people, apparently tourists, ran in panic to safety, including at least one couple carrying two children.

Among the tourists who were killed, were Italians, who were believed to have been passengers aboard the Costa Fascinosa, a cruise liner making a seven-day trip of the western Mediterranean that had docked in Tunis.

Ship owner Costa Crociere confirmed that some of its 3 161 passengers were visiting the capital on Wednesday and that a Bardo tour was on the itinerary, but said it couldn't confirm how many, if any, passengers were in the museum at the time. 

The National Bardo Museum, built in a 15th-century palace, is the largest museum in Tunisia and houses one of the world's largest collections of Roman mosaics among its 8 000 works. 

The attack has been condemned by the US, the UN, France and the UAE. 

An expert on extremism says that Twitter accounts linked to the Islamic State group  (ISIS) are voicing elation at the attack.

Rita Katz of the SITE Intelligence Group said on Wednesday evening on Twitter that Islamic State accounts are applauding the attack on the Bardo museum and putting out "calls for Tunisians to 'follow their brothers'."

SITE follows extremist and jihadi websites around the world, publishing translations of the latest 

Read more on:    north africa  |  tunisia attack

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