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19 Dead in Attack on Tunisia Museum

2 attackers, 17 tourists among the dead
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 18, 2015 9:48 AM CDT
Updated Mar 18, 2015 10:28 AM CDT
8 Dead in Attack on Tunisia Museum
A victim is being evacuated by rescue workers outside the Bardo musum in Tunis, Wednesday, March 18, 2015, Tunisia.   (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)

(Newser) – Gunmen opened fire today at a leading museum in Tunisia's capital, leaving at least 19 people dead, including two gunmen and 17 foreign tourists, Tunisian PM Habib Essid said. "Two were engaged in the operation and were killed," said Essid, per the BBC. "As I speak, our reports are not final. These two could have been assisted by two or three other operatives." The dead were Polish, Spanish, German, Italian, and Tunisian nationals. Essid said 22 foreigners and two Tunisians were injured. It wasn't immediately clear who the attackers were, and all hostages have been freed. Security forces filled the area around the National Bardo Museum after the attack. Tunisia's parliament building, near the museum, was evacuated, according to a tweet by parliament member Sayida Ounissi.

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It was the first attack on a tourist site in years in Tunisia, a shaky young democracy that has struggled to keep Islamic extremist violence at bay after overthrowing its authoritarian president in 2011, and is a blow to Tunisia's efforts to revive its tourism industry. Poland's Foreign Ministry announced that three Poles were among the wounded. The violence that Tunisia has seen in recent years has been largely focused on security forces, not foreigners or tourist sites. A disproportionately large number of Tunisian recruits—some 3,000, according to government estimates—have joined Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq; the country also has extremists linked to al-Qaeda's North Africa arm. (Read more Tunisia stories.)

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