[WSF-Discuss] Attack in Tunis - WSF news?

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Wed Mar 18 10:48:29 CDT 2015


Do comrades have any information on this sickening incident - especially 
in terms of potential impact on the WSF?

Thanks,
Patrick

***


  Tunis museum attack: 19 people killed after hostage drama at tourist site

Tunisian PM says 17 of those killed in ‘cowardly attack’ were foreigners 
after two gunmen reportedly stormed Bardo museum and kept hostages for 
three hours

Members of the Tunisian armed forces take up a position near the Bardo 
museum.
<http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/18/eight-people-killed-in-attack-on-tunisia-bardo-museum#img-1> 
Members of the Tunisian armed forces take up a position near the Bardo 
museum. Photograph: Mohamed Messara/EPA

Chris Stephen <http://www.theguardian.com/profile/chris-stephen> in 
Tunis, Kareem Shaheen 
<http://www.theguardian.com/profile/kareem-shaheen> in Beirut and Mark 
Tran <http://www.theguardian.com/profile/marktran>

Wednesday 18 March 2015 14.56

At least 19 people have been killed in Tunisia 
<http://www.theguardian.com/world/tunisia> after two gunmen stormed the 
Bardo national museum – one of the country’s leading tourist attractions 
in the capital, Tunis – sparking a three-hour hostage drama.

Tunisia’s prime minister, Habib Essid, said on Wednesday afternoon that 
17 of the dead were foreigners – from Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland – 
calling the attack a cowardly assault on the country’s tourist economy.

Three hours after the attack started at about midday local time (11am 
GMT), an interior ministry spokesman said two gunmen had been killed, as 
well as one security officer, and that all hostages had been freed.

Poland’s foreign ministry said that three Poles were among the six wounded.

The Bardo, which chronicles Tunisia’s history and includes one of the 
world’s largest collections of Roman mosaics, is one of the country’s 
biggest tourist attractions.


  Live Tunisia terror attack: at least 11 dead after gunmen storm museum
  - live

Tunisian foreign ministry confirms seven foreigners and one Tunisian 
have been killed in an attack at the Bardo museum, adjacent to the 
parliament building in Tunis
Read more

A single muffled detonation signaled the end of the siege, with reports 
filtering through to crowds gathered outside the gates in the bright 
sunshine that the attackers were dead.

White ambulances with lights flashing drove in a slow convoy inside the 
gardens of the palace grounds. Minutes later police pushed open the big 
iron entrance gates and black armored vehicles of the special forces, 
their task seemingly complete, came out, inching through the crowds 
pressing in outside.

The spectators burst into cheering and applause and a black-clad 
helmeted soldier peering from the turret of one vehicle punched the air 
with both fists in response.

Relief that the siege was over was mixed with dismay among those 
watching. “This is a black day for Tunisia,” said Karim Ben Sa’a, a 
manager in the tourism industry. “We are very sad for these tourists. 
They visit our country and it is so, so, sad to see them die. Our hearts 
are black.”

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Elsewhere in Tunis there was shock and dismay that terrorists had 
managed to launch an attack at the very heart of the capital, at a 
museum that shares the Bardot palace complex with the national 
parliament. Police set up checkpoints and a policeman with a machine gun 
was posted outside the office of the UK’s British Council .


During the hostage crisis, black-clad police snipers were on the 
rooftops and bastions of the ancient Bardot castle which forms part of 
the complex housing the museum.

A helicopter thundered low overhead making circles over the museum. 
Several hundred people gathered outside the wrought iron gates of the 
complex, as the air echoed to the sirens of police cars and ambulances.

The attack came a day after Tunisia announced a major seizure of weapons 
from jihadi groups, triggering speculation that the museum attack may 
have been launched by jihadist groups in revenge.

In a defiant tweet one MP, Sayida Ounissi, said: “We are not afraid”, 
adding that Tunisia’s parliament had been evacuated.

The Bardo, which chronicles Tunisia’s history and includes one of the 
world’s largest collections of Roman mosaics, is one of the country’s 
biggest tourist attractions.

The Italian foreign ministry confirmed two Italians may have been 
wounded in the and was awaiting confirmation of the wounded. It said 100 
Italians were safe and under police protection after being rescued from 
the museum. The rescued victims were on a tour but the ministry could 
not confirm the name of the tour.

The attack came days after the death of Ahmed Al-Rouissi 
<http://www.lemonde.fr/libye/article/2015/03/18/un-responsable-tunisien-de-l-etat-islamique-en-libye-tue_4595652_1496980.html>, 
a Tunisian also known as Abu Zakariya Al-Tunisi, who led a contingent of 
Islamic State (Isis) troops in Libya. He was killed in clashes with 
Libyan troops near the town of Sirte, a stronghold of followers of 
Muammar Gaddafi, the late Libyan strongman.

Tunisian commentators speculated there may be a connection between his 
death and Wednesday’s deadly attack, which could badly damage tourism, 
on which the country relies heavily.

Pro-Isis twitter accounts hailed the attack as “ghazwat Tunis” or the 
“raid of Tunis” (ghazwa is the description given to the early Islamic 
battles) and have cheered on the attackers. A purported IS video from 
last December threatened attacks on Tunisia.

Last month, Tunisia arrested more than 30 suspected militants – some of 
whom returning from fighting in Syria – who were planning “spectacular” 
attacks, officials said at the time. Interior ministry officials said 
counter-terrorism forces had prevented attacks against “vital 
installations”, including the interior ministry and civilian buildings 
in Tunis.

The assault on the museum poses an early and severe challenge for the 
new secular-Islamist coalition cabinet led by the prime minister, Habib 
Essid, which took office last month. It already faces the problem of a 
proliferation of armed groups that emerged after the 2011 uprising that 
overthrew Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Tunisia is a major source of fighters travelling to Syria, with the 
number of Tunisians fighting there estimated at about 3,000. A few 
hundred have returned to Tunisia and many have been tracked down and 
arrested.


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