South African wounded in Tunisia attack

By Drum Digital
19 March 2015

A South African woman was wounded in the attack at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis, Tunisia, MSC Cruises said on Thursday.

The South African woman was among the 3714 guests and 1267 crew members aboard the MSC Splendida which docked at the port of La Goulette, Tunis.

"During the visit at the museum, some of MSC Cruises' guests were caught in the middle of a terrorist attack along with guests from another cruise line," it said in a statement.

"MSC Cruises SA has confirmed there are 78 South Africans on board the MSC Splendida. All of these passengers are accounted for. One passenger was injured in the attack and was swiftly taken to a local hospital where she is receiving relevant treatment."

MSC Cruises said the woman's husband disembarked and remained with her and MSC had set up a crisis team to help.

Two gunmen killed 17 foreign tourists and two Tunisians at the Bardo museum on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the international relations and co-operation department said it was liaising with its embassy in Tunisia to determine if any South Africans were wounded or killed.

"We are still waiting for reports; at this point we are not able to confirm if there were South Africans involved in the attack," spokesman Clayson Monyela said.

"We will confirm once we have received the information. Our officials at the Tunisia embassy said authorities are trying to establish the identities of those injured and killed."

MSC Cruises said all future visits to Tunis would be cancelled.

"As soon as the company heard of the attack and the fact that some of its guests were involved in this tragedy, regular stringent safety procedures were set in motion and the ship management called for the immediate cancellation of all on-going shore excursions and recalled all buses and their passengers on the ground back to the ship.

"The security on board was also immediately raised to level three, its highest, by emergency protocol to ensure complete safety of all guests and crew members, the company's number one priority at all times," it said.

MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago was expected to arrive in Tunis on Thursday to help the victims and their relatives and consult local authorities.

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid said two Tunisian gunmen killed 17 tourists -- five from Japan, four from Italy, two from Columbia, two from Spain, and one each from Australia, Poland, and France.

The nationality of one dead foreigner was not released. Essid said the gunmen also killed two Tunisians, AP reported.

At least 44 people were wounded, including tourists from Italy, France, Japan, Poland, Belgium, and Russia, according to Essid and doctors from Tunis's Charles Nicolle hospital.

AP reported that the attackers, who wore military-style uniforms and were armed with rifles, burst from a vehicle and began shooting at tourists getting out of buses.

The attackers -- known to Tunisian intelligence services but not formally linked to a particular terrorist group -- then entered the museum to take hostages before being killed in a firefight with security forces.


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