Twenty-eight dead, dozen hos­pi­tal­ized in Tu­nisia at­tack on crowded beach re­sort


At least 28 peo­ple, in­clud­ing for­eign­ers, were killed Fri­day in a mass shoot­ing at a Tu­nisian beach re­sort packed with hol­i­day­mak­ers, in the North African coun­try’s worst at­tack in re­cent history.

The car­nage came on a day of blood­shed with a sui­cide bomber killing 13 peo­ple at a Shi­ite mosque in the Kuwaiti cap­i­tal and a sus­pected Is­lamist launch­ing an as­sault on a gas fac­tory in eastern France.

Wit­nesses de­scribed scenes of panic and con­fu­sion af­ter the shoot­ing at a ho­tel in a dis­trict of Sousse, about 140 kilo­me­ters (87 miles) south of Tu­nis.

An armed man “en­tered through the back of the ho­tel and opened fire,” said in­te­rior min­istry spokesman Mo­hamed Ali Aroui.

The ear­lier toll is “27 dead in­clud­ing tourists,” he told AFP with­out giv­ing their na­tion­al­i­ties.

A dozen more peo­ple were re­ported to have been hos­pi­tal­ized.

“It was a ter­ror­ist at­tack” tar­get­ing the Marhaba Ho­tel in the Port El Kan­taoui dis­trict, Aroui said.

“The as­sailant was killed,” he added, with­out rul­ing out the pos­si­bil­ity that there was more than one at­tacker.

The shoot­ing came just months af­ter a March at­tack on the Bardo Na­tional Mu­seum in Tu­nis killed 21 for­eign tourists and a po­lice­man.

Gary Pine, a Bri­tish hol­i­day­maker, said the shoot­ing hap­pened at around mid­day (1100 GMT) when the beach was thronged with tourists.

“We saw what we thought was fire­crack­ers go­ing off, so we thought some­one was cel­e­brat­ing. But you could see quite quickly the panic that was start­ing to en­sue from the next re­sort along from us,” he told Sky News.

‘Bul­lets whizzing’

“Peo­ple were ex­it­ing the beach pretty quick. We’re all look­ing up think­ing, what do we do, what is it, but only when you could start hear­ing bul­lets whizzing around your ear do you re­al­ize it was some­thing a lot more se­ri­ous than fire­crack­ers.”

The tourist area was later com­pletely sealed off by se­cu­rity forces, a wit­ness told AFP by tele­phone.

The French em­bassy in Tu­nis, in an SMS mes­sage, urged its na­tion­als to be vig­i­lant and to “limit travel and avoid gath­er­ings.”

Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande of France and his Tu­nisian coun­ter­part Beji Caid Essebsi both ex­pressed their “sol­i­dar­ity in face of ter­ror­ism,” a French state­ment is­sued in Paris said.

Tu­nisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, has seen a surge in rad­i­cal Is­lamism since vet­eran pres­i­dent Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in the 2011 revo­lu­tion.

Dozens of mem­bers of the se­cu­rity forces have been killed since then in ji­hadist at­tacks.

In Oc­to­ber 2013, a sui­cide bomber blew him­self up in a botched at­tack on a beach in Sousse while se­cu­rity forces foiled another planned at­tack nearby.

Even be­fore the latest at­tack, Tu­nisia’s tourism in­dus­try had been brac­ing for a heavy blow from the Bardo mu­seum shoot­ing.

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