Tunis Museum Attack: Gunman Laabidi was Known to Security Services, says PM

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Speaking after the attack, Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi said the country was “in a war with terror”.

A gunman who carried out an attack that killed 17 tourists at Tunis’s Bardo museum was known to the authorities, Tunisia’s prime minister has said.

Habib Essi told RTL Radio that security services had flagged up one of the attackers, Yassine Laabidi, but were not aware of “anything specific”, or of any links to known militant groups.

“Tunisia has managed to avoid the larger wars which have hit other Arab states, but this attack…reveals its vulnerability.”

— The BBC’s James Reynolds

Two Tunisians, a police officer among them, also died in Wednesday’s attack.

Both gunmen were also killed. A search is on for suspects linked to them.

The museum is a major attraction in Tunisia

The museum is a major attraction in Tunisia

Two or three accomplices are still at large, an interior ministry spokesman told AFP news agency. The spokesman said both attackers were “probably” Tunisian. The second gunman has been named as Hatem Khachnaoui.

The tourists killed in the attack include visitors from Japan, Italy, Colombia, Australia, France, Poland and Spain, officials said.

“These monstrous minorities do not frighten us. We will resist them until the deepest end without mercy. Democracy will win and it will survive.”

— Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi

Officials say more than 40 people, including tourists and Tunisians, were injured.

Security forces stormed the museum on Wednesday afternoon
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Speaking after the attack, Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi said the country was “in a war with terror”.

“These monstrous minorities do not frighten us,” he said in remarks broadcast on national TV. “We will resist them until the deepest end without mercy. “Democracy will win and it will survive.”

At the time of the attack, deputies in the neighbouring parliamentary building were discussing anti-terrorism legislation.

Who were the victims?

According to Prime Minister Essid, 19 people were killed, although some of the countries involved have different totals:

  • Two Tunisians, including a police officer involved in the security operation
  • Five Japanese were killed, according to Mr Essid – although Japan says it has only confirmed the deaths of three citizens
  • Four Italians
  • Two Colombians
  • Two Spaniards
  • One national each from Australia, France and Poland
  • One victim who was not immediately identified

Parliament was evacuated, but later reconvened for an extraordinary session in the evening.

Sayida Ounissi, an MP, told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme that the security services had said parliament was the original target of the attack. Read the rest of this entry »