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Gunmen Kill 19 Tourists At Famed Bardo Museum In Tunis

by Kristen Timbrook - The Oregon Herald Wednesday March 18, 2015    9:19 AM

CAIRO - Today, two gunmen charged into a famous museum near parliament in Tunis, killing at least 19 tourists, and others before being killed by police. Tunis is the capital of Tunisia, north between Algeria and Libia on the Mediterranean.

22 more tourists and two Tunisians escaped with injuries, Prime Minister Habib Essid said in a live televised news conference. Three of the attackers remain at large.

The attackers, wearing military uniforms, walked past the fence around the museum and waited for tourist buses to arrive, opened fire then went into the building and reportedly executed eight tourists before being killed themselves.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Al-Orwa told reporters outside the museum that four buses full of tourists arrived at the museum around the time the attackers struck. He said the vast majority of the tourists had escaped the building.

Al-Orwa referred to the incident as a "terrorist attack on the Bardo Museum."

The nationalities of those killed and injured was not immediately confirmed.

Helicopters buzzed over the area in the afternoon, and Tunisian state television said they were evacuating people from the area, possibly including those injured in the attack.

Italian cruise company Costa Cruises said in a written statement that its ship, the Costa Fascinosa, was "moored in the port of Tunis as planned" Wednesday during a week in the western Mediterranean.

"Some guests of Costa Fascinosa participated in a tour of the city," said the statement, adding that the company was in contact with Tunisian authorities and was monitoring the situation closely. There were earlier reports that as many as 200 people from a European tour group had arrived at the museum aboard the buses.

Tunisia was once a popular tourist destination but has grappled with Islamic extremism after the "Arab Spring."

The attack was the first targeting tourists in Tunisia since 2011.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for Wednesday's attack.

Photo: Scenes from Tunisian state television showed confusion outside Tunisia’s parliament building on Wednesday as gunmen attacked an art museum in Tunis. Publish Date March 18, 2015. Photo by Mohamed Messara/European Pressphoto Agency.
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