Tunisia holding 20+ suspects after museum attack

2015-03-21 18:10
A man holds a Tunisian flag and flowers during a special Christian service for the victims of the museum attack. (Michel Euler, AP)

A man holds a Tunisian flag and flowers during a special Christian service for the victims of the museum attack. (Michel Euler, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tunis - Tunisian authorities have arrested more than 20 suspected militants following the Bardo museum attack when gunmen killed foreign tourists, leading to a nationwide security crackdown, the government said on Saturday.

Hundreds of Tunisians gathered for a mass in the cathedral in Tunis on Saturday, lighting candles to remember the victims - 20 foreign tourists and three Tunisians - in a ceremony attended by government ministers.

Outside, there was a heavy police presence along the capital's central Habib Bourguiba boulevard. But the city was calm with a music festival planning to continue with its concerts in the city centre.

Wednesday's assault - the most deadly attack involving foreigners in Tunisia since a 2002 suicide bombing in Djerba - came at a fragile moment for a country just emerging to full democracy after a popular uprising four years ago.

The government said the two gunmen had trained in jihadi camps in Libya before the attack at the museum inside the heavily secured Tunisian parliament compound. Japanese, French, Polish, Italian and Colombian visitors were among the victims.

Authorities have arrested more than 20 suspected militants, including 10 believed to be directly involved in the Bardo attack, interior ministry spokesperson Mohamed Ali Aroui said.

"There is a large-scale campaign against the extremists," he said.

The interior ministry also released a photograph of another suspect and asked Tunisians to help with information.


The government plans to deploy the army to major cities to improve security following the shootings.

Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for the attack, but social media accounts tied to an al-Qaeda-affiliated group in Tunisia have also published details purported to be about the operation.

Whoever was responsible, the Bardo attack illustrates how Islamist militants are turning their attention to North Africa, especially in neighbouring Libya where two rival governments battle for control allowing Islamic State to gain a foothold.

The United States is increasingly worried about the growing presence of Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Libya.

US officials said that because of its strategic position, Libya has become a springboard for would-be fighters from across North Africa wanting to link up with Islamic State. They could travel from there to Syria for frontline experience.

Four years after a popular revolt toppled autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has completed its transition to democracy with free elections, a new constitution and compromise politics between secular and Islamist parties.

But the attack threatens to hit the economy of a country that is heavily reliant on foreign tourists to its beach resorts and desert treks. Authorities have tightened security at hotels and tourist spots.

"This attack will have an impact, no doubt. But so far we have only had a small number of cancellations," Tourism Minister Salma Loumi told Reuters.

"On the contrary, we are seeing support from Western countries and travel agencies."

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  isis  |  north africa  |  tunisia attack

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.