Tunisia troops to shore up security after attack

Police officers guard the entrance of the National Bardo Museum a day after gunmen opened fire killing scores of people in Tunis, Thursday, March 19, 2015. (AP)

Tunisia said Thursday it would deploy soldiers to beef up security in major cities after an attack on foreign tourists at the national museum that killed at least 23 people.

The presidential announcement came after an emergency meeting of top government and army officials.

The military will be tasked with "patrols at the entrances to, and areas surrounding, major cities" in coordination with the police, a presidential source told AFP.

"We are not under siege," the source added.

The measures also include tightening cooperation among the different branches of the security forces and a review of border security.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has has claimed the attack by gunmen who opened fire at visitors Wednesday as they got off a bus and then chased them inside the museum.

Twenty foreigners were among the dead, including tourists from Japan, Spain, Colombia, Australia, Britain, Belgium, France, Poland and Italy, Health Minister Said Aidi said.

Italy

Italy said Thursday it would increase its military presence in the central Mediterranean, describing the deadly attack on a museum in Tunis as fresh evidence of a growing threat from extremist groups.

“Following a worsening of the terrorist threat, dramatically demonstrated by yesterday’s events in Tunisia, an increase in our air and naval deployments in the central Mediterranean has become necessary,” Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti told the parliamentary defence and foreign affairs committee.

At least two Italian tourists died in Wednesday’s attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis.

The minister said the increased military presence was required to defend Italy’s multiple interests in the area in light of the growing risk posed by the presence of extremist groups and to ensure consistent levels of maritime security.

“North Africa has to represent our primary concern,” Pinotti told lawmakers.

On top of the forces usually deployed, Italy has moved additional naval units, a maritime protection team, helicopters, planes and drones into the area, she added.

Pinotti said the extra resources were needed to protect communication lines, merchant shipping and offshore platforms and to facilitate increased surveillance of potential jihadist activity.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45
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