ISIS claims responsibility for Tunisia attack

A tourist is helped to a vehicle after an attack by gunmen on Tunisia’s national museum in Tunis March 18, 2015. (Reuters)

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Thursday claimed responsibility for the bloody attack that left 23 people killed at Bardo museum in the capital Tunis on Wednesday, reported AFP.

In an audio message posted online, ISIS said “two knights from the Islamic State [ISIS]... heavily armed with automatic weapons and grenades, targeted the Bardo Museum.”

It threatened more attacks, saying: “What you have seen is only the start.”

Infographic: Deadly museum attack in Tunisia

Infographic: Deadly museum attack in Tunisia

Infographic: Deadly museum attack in Tunisia

Earlier on Thursday, Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid had said one of the two gunmen in the attack were known to intelligence services, the Associated Press reported.

In an interview with France's RTL radio, Essid said Tunisia is working with other countries to learn more about the attackers, identified as Yassine Laabidi and Hatem Khachnaoui. They were killed by security services in a raid after they attacked the museum.

While Yassine Laabidi had been flagged by Tunisian intelligence prior to the attack, authorities have not established a link between him and a terror group.

He said Laabidi had been flagged to intelligence, although not for "anything special."

Read Also: Tunisia: A ripe target for militants.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Tunisia has faced scattered extremist violence, and a disproportionately large number of Tunisians have joined Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq.

Twitter accounts associated with the group praised the attack. Ifriqiyah Media, which has aired claims from Tunisian extremists in the past, posted what it said were details about the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity online. The post calls on Muslims to attack tourists, but does not say who orchestrated the attack.

Tunisia's health minister placed the death toll in Tunisia's deadliest attack in 13 years at 23 people, including 20 foreign tourists, according to radio station Mosaique FM.

Gunmen opened fire on tourists as they got off their buses making their way to the capital’s famed Bardo museum.

Three Tunisians were killed in the attack, in addition to tourists from Japan, Italy, Colombia, Spain, Australia, Poland and France.

Condemnation

The United Nations, along with the U.S., UAE, Germany, France and Britain condemned the attack.

“We will exert the utmost effort in our fight against terrorism by deepening cooperation with the international community,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday as he announced the death of three citizens.

Speaking to reporters earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida labelled the attack a “despicable act of terrorism.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. is prepared to offer assistance to Tunisian authorities in their investigation of the attack and “will continue to stand with our Tunisian partners against terrorist violence.”

The brazen daylight raid sparked panic at the nearby parliament and the National Bardo Museum itself, a magnet for the tourists who contribute so much to the economy.

[With AP]

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46
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