AFRICA/TERRORISM: 22 Dead in Tunis Museum Attack [UPDATE 2]

March 18, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

Previously Peaceful Tunisia.

Tunisia and its neighbors. (Map from CIA World Factbook)

Tunisia and its neighbors.
(Map from CIA World Factbook)

Nine people have been arrested in connection with the deadly attack on a museum in Tunisia’s capital, killing at least 23 people  — 20 of them foreign tourists, the BBC reports.

And the brutal extremist group that calls itself Islamic State is reportedly taking credit for the bloodbath in the North African nation, according to Reuters, CNN and other news organizations.

Officials have not confirmed the IS claim of responsibility, which was made in an audio recording that praised the two attackers slain in the assault as “knights of Islamic State.”

Gunmen tried to storm the country’s national assembly Wednesday (March 18) while lawmakers were debating an anti-terrorism bill. When that attack was thwarted, the gunmen — some wearing military-style uniforms — attacked tourist buses outside the National Bardo Museum across from the government building.

According to the Voice of America, the attackers took a small group of tourists hostage. There were about 100 tourists in the museum, one of he capital’s top tourism sites, when the attack began. Prime Minister Habib Essid said 17 foreign tourists were among the dead. They were said to come from Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain. Two Tunisians, a female museum custodian and a security officer, were also killed — as were two gunmen. Tunisian authorities say they are searching for up to three accomplices.

The attack was a blow to Tunisia, one of the bright spots in the Arab Spring. Except for al Qaeda attacks on security forces along Tunisia’s borders, there has been no large scale political violence in the country. Tunisia has been making progress on a democratic transition since a popular revolt unseated the autocratic regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. Since then there have been violent uphevals in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere in the Arab world.

The attack on such a prominent target is a blow for a small North African country that relies heavily on European tourism, said Al Jazeera. The Wall Street Journal reports that “about 12 percent of Tunisia’s gross domestic product relies on tourism.”

More later in AROUND AFRICA this evening …

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Entry filed under: Africa, Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, Lessons Learned, National Security and Defense, News Developments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (March 15-21, 1815) PART II AROUND AFRICA: Tunis Update; Attacks on and by Al Shabaab; Mali-UN Chopper Crash; Mali-Rebel Talks

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