Tunisia attack kills 39

Agence France-Presse
Tunisia attack kills 39

AFP

(5th UPDATE) The Islamic State group claims responsibility for the massacre in the Tunisian seaside resort


TUNIS, Tunisia (5th UPDATE) – A man pulled a gun hidden inside a beach umbrella and opened fire at a packed holiday resort Friday, June 26, massacring 39 people in Tunisia’s worst attack in recent history.

The carnage at the popular Mediterranean resort of Port el Kantaoui came the same day a suicide bomber killed 27 people at a Shiite mosque in Kuwait and a suspected Islamist attacked a factory in France.

The Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as ISIS or the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq) claimed responsibility for the massacre in the Tunisian seaside resort.

In a statement released on Twitter, the jihadists said the gunman, who they identified as Abu Yahya al-Qayrawani, was a “solider of the caliphate” and most of those killed were “subjects of states that make up the crusader alliance fighting the state of the caliphate”.

Witnesses described scenes of panic after the shooting at the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel on the outskirts of Sousse, about 140 kilometres (87 miles) south of Tunis.

The death toll rose to 39 late Friday, the health ministry said.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in London five Britons had been killed and warned that the toll could rise.

“Because of the nature of the composition of the tourist population in this part of Tunisia we have to assume that a high proportion of those killed and injured will have been British,” he said.

A spokesman for Spain’s RIU group said most of the 565 hotel guests were from Britain and “central European countries”.

‘ Bullets whizzing around’ 

In Dublin, Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan said an Irish woman was among the dead.

Interior ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui told AFP: “The assailant was killed.”

Secretary of State for Security Rafik Chelly told Mosaique FM the gunman was a Tunisian student previously unknown to the authorities.

“He entered by the beach, dressed like someone who was going to swim, and he had a beach umbrella with his gun in it. Then when he came to the beach he used his weapon,” Chelly said.

British tourist Ellie Makin saw the attack unfold.

“All I saw was a gun and an umbrella being dropped,” she told ITV television.

“Then he started firing to the right hand side of us. If he had fired to the left I don’t know what would have happened, but we were very lucky.”

The shooting was the worst in modern-day Tunisia and followed a March attack claimed by ISIS on Tunis’s Bardo National Museum that killed 21 foreign tourists and a policeman.

British tourist Gary Pine told Britain’s Sky News television Friday’s shooting happened at around midday (1100 GMT) when the beach was packed.

He said he thought it was “firecrackers going off”.

“Only when you could start hearing bullets whizzing around your ear do you realise it was something a lot more serious than firecrackers.”

Pine said he heard 20 or 30 shots.

“My son was in the sea at the time and of course my wife and myself were shouting for him to get out the sea quick and as we ran up the beach he said: ‘I just saw someone get shot’.” – Rappler.com 

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