Tunis: The death toll of foreign tourists killed in deadly Tunisia museum attack has increased to 20, the health minister said Thursday
According to an AFP report, the country's health minister said that the number of slain foreign tourists has risen from 17 to 20. Also the number of killed Tunisians rose to three.
Philip Hammond, UK Foreign Secretary informed that a British woman was among those killed.
Meanwhile, the hunt is on for the absconding accomplices of the two gunmen who were killed during the operation.
Tunisian PM Habib Essid made public the identity of the two gunmen killed during the security operation at the Bardo museum, saying that they were probably Tunisian.
The two terrorists responsible for the attack were identified as Yassine Abidi and Hatem Khachnaoui, reported Mosaique FM Radio.
23 people, including 20 foreigners and three Tunisians were killed when gunmen wielding Kalashnikovs opened fire at the museum yesterday, which is not far from the Parliament, which was soon evacuated, but reconvened later for a special session in the evening.
When the attack took place in the adjacent museum, the Parliamentarians were discussing an anti-terror law. According to a Mirror report that cited the tweet of a journalist, a picture showed how the MPs, in a show of courage and defiance, sang national anthem during the lockdown.
Among those killed were tourist of different nationalities including French, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, Polish, German, Colombian, etc.
The attackers also held several tourists hostage as pictures posted on Twitter showed images from inside the museum, showing people squatting on the floor.
All hostages were however freed as Tunisia Special Forces took cover, killing two gunmen in the security operation that went on for two hours.
Tunisia museum attack has been condemned by world leaders with the UN chief calling it
Though it is yet to be ascertained that who was behind the attack, a top EU official has blamed the Islamic State for the Bardo Museum attack.
High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini said that it was the ISIS that “had become particularly active in neighbouring Libya, was behind the atrocity”, the Mirror reported.
"The EU is determined to mobilise all the tools it has to fully support Tunisia in the fight against terrorism," she added.
The EU official's suspicion does not seem far-fetched as the ISIS had, just a couple of days ago, released a video spouting advice to Boko Haram fighters and urging Tunisian jihadists to follow suit, reported the SITE Intel Group.
Islamic State (IS)-linked accounts on social media have begun expressing joy following the March 17 attack on Bardo Museum in Tunisia’s capital, wherein two armed men reportedly killed at least 19 people and took several hostages. The attack comes after various releases in recent months by IS and its supporters aimed at recruiting Tunisians and inciting attacks.
“If this attack was carried out by the Islamic State, it didn’t come from out of nowhere,” said SITE Director Rita Katz. “Islamic State officials, supporters, and fighters have been urging for an attack in Tunisia in the group’s name for a while now.”
On March 15, IS released a video of a fighter in Raqqa providing advice to fighters in Boko Haram and then stated that Tunisian jihadists should follow in the group’s footsteps:
“Here, let me not to forget to urge our brothers in Tunisia, saying to them: O my brothers in Allah, O brothers in religion and doctrine in Tunisia, what are you waiting for?,” SITE group quoted the ISIS fighter.
Just next day, there were reports of Tunisian rapper “Emino” (AKA Marwen Duiri) joining the ISIS.
And on the day of attack on the museum, another IS-linked account tweeted, “Allah permitting, there will be earthshaking surprises in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya during these days….We are coming O Rome,” the SITE Intel Group translated.
Also, the ISIS Twitter accounts that have welcome with joy the news of Tunisia terror attack, have renewed their calls for similar attacks , tweeted SITE Intel Group Director Rita Katz.
— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) March 18, 2015
Tunisia, the cradle of Arab Spring, though suffering from an unstability and chaos due to Islamist militants who have tried to botch up the country's democratic transition after the ouster of dictator Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, has been far removed from the tentacles of the rising extremism as seen in Libya or Syria.