The Malta Independent 2 March 2024, Saturday
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Islamic State claims credit for Tunisia attack that killed 39, Sousse suffers tourist exodus

Saturday, 27 June 2015, 09:10 Last update: about 10 years ago

The Islamic State, or ISIS, has reportedly claimed credit for yesterday’s attack in Tunisia, which left 37 people dead. The victims were mostly Western holidaymakers who were either massacred while they were sunbathing or in the hotel grounds.

A young man pulled a Kalashnikov from a beach umbrella and sprayed gunfire at European sunbathers at a Tunisian resort -  one of three deadly attacks Friday from Europe to North Africa to the Middle East that followed a call to violence by Islamic State extremists.

The shootings in the Tunisian resort of Sousse happened at about the same time as a bombing at a Shiite mosque in Kuwait and an attack on a U.S.-owned factory in France that included a beheading. It was unclear if the violence was linked but it came days after the IS militants urged their followers "to make Ramadan a month of calamities for the nonbelievers." In all, the assailants killed at least 65 people.

The SITE Intelligence Group reported later that the IS claimed credit for the Tunisia attack on its Twitter account and identified the gunman as Abu Yahya al-Qayrawani.

The attack in Tunisia, the country's worst ever, comes just months after the March 18 massacre at the national Bardo museum in Tunis that killed 22 people, again mostly tourists, and has called into question the newly elected government's ability to protect the country.

"Once again, cowardly and traitorous hands have struck Tunisia, targeting its security and that of its children and visitors," President Beji Caid Essebsi told reporters at the RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel, near the beach rampage site.

Essebsi promised "painful but necessary" measures, adding: "No country is safe from terrorism, and we need a global strategy of all democratic countries."

Rafik Chelli, the secretary of state of the Interior Ministry, told The Associated Press that the attack was carried out by a young student not previously known to authorities. At least 36 people were reported wounded in the shooting spree, which ended when the gunman was shot to death by police.


Gunman never travelled out of country

Tunisia's Prime Minister says an initial investigation shows the gunman was from a village in a poor central region of Tunisia and had never traveled abroad. Habib Essid said Seifeddine Rezgui, who was killed by police after the attack Friday in Sousse, was not previously known by authorities. He said he came from the town of Gaafour in the governorate of Siliana and had been a student at Kairouan university.

The Islamic State group has claimed credit for the attack, identifying the gunman by his jihadi pseudonym Abu Yahya al-Qayrawani.

Belgian tourist Clause Besser has described from his hospital bed how he heard gunshots on the beach in a Tunisian resort town and tried to flee as a gunman killed at least 39 people. Besser recounted early Saturday how he took a bullet as he ran away from the shooter at the beach in Sousse.

"It's really sad but what can you do, for everyone, for the tourists, for the people who died, for their families," he said. "For me, somehow, with a bullet in the leg, it's not a catastrophe. For those who died or injured for life, it's something else," he added.


Tunisia's Prime Minister Habib Essid has identified the shooter, who was killed by police after the attack, as Seifeddine Rezgui. According to the SITE intelligence group, the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack.


Government, PN, Ahmadiyah condemn attack

The Maltese government yesterday condemned the attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait. It also expressed its condolences to the victims and wished a speedy recovery to the injured. The government also expressed solidarity with the three countries and offered “any form of necessary assistance” in the fight against global terrorism. The French goverment, it said, was certainly able to keep order and ensure that similar acts are not repeated. On the Kuwait suicide bombing it said it was a same that people were killed while praying during the holy month of Ramadan. The attacks in Tunisia are not only a human tragedy but are also a serious threat to the country’s democracy.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community unequivocally condemned the attacks. "The true teachings of Islam absolutely reject such barbarism and all peace-loving Muslims are left shocked and utterly horrified by the actions of terrorists.Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims of this appalling crime. These attacks have become even more painful for all the peace-loving Muslims as they are fasting during the Holy month of Ramadan, a time to demonstrate righteousness.”

The attacks were also condemned by the Nationalist Party. Shadow minister Roberta Metsola and spokesman Tonio Fenech said: "more than ever before, today's horrific attacks show us that terrorism is a global phenomenon that makes no distinction between peoples of different religions or nationalities.

"We must stand firm in solidarity against extremism. Terror will not intimidate and will not prevail wherever it takes place."


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