ISIS Claims Tunisia Hit; 2 Tourists Found, Hid All Night

One museum attacker was known to authorities
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2015 5:04 AM CDT
Updated Mar 19, 2015 10:54 AM CDT
Tunisia: Terrorists Will Be Exterminated
Rescue workers take away a victim after gunmen opened fire at the Bardo museum in Tunisia's capital yesterday.   (AP Photo/Ali Ben Salah)

"We are in a war with terror, and these savage minority groups will not frighten us," Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi vowed in the wake of a terrorist attack that has now killed 18 foreign tourists and three Tunisians, plus the two gunmen. "The fight against them will continue until they are exterminated," he said in a speech last night, per the Guardian. He promised that "democracy will win and it will survive" as large numbers of demonstrators gathered in Tunis to protest the attack, reports Reuters. Meanwhile, ISIS militants today claimed responsibility for the attack, reports the BBC. But in a bright spot, two Spanish tourists who hid in the museum all night have now been found safe; Juan Carlos Sanchez tells the AP that "we thought the terrorists were still outside. But it was simply the police who were searching for people." Cristina Rubio is four months pregnant; both are fine. In other developments:

  • Prime Minister Habib Essi says one of the two gunmen, Yassine Laabidi, was known to authorities, but security services were unaware of links to militant groups, the BBC reports. Both gunmen were killed by security forces, and authorities say they're still hunting several accomplices. Tunisia has now detained a total of nine people.

  • Officials say tourists from Japan, Italy, Colombia, Australia, France, Poland, and Spain were killed in the attack, according to the BBC. Poland, which has sent a plane with doctors to help treat the injured, says two of its citizens were killed, two are missing, and nine are among the 40 or so wounded, the AP reports.
  • Tunisia, birthplace of the Arab Spring, is the "Arab world's most successful democracy," which may have made it more of a target, but there are fears the attack could lead to greater authoritarianism, reports the New York Times.
  • ISIS supporters are praising the attack online, as per the Times. The Telegraph reports that Tunisian media are speculating that Ahmed al-Rouissi, the country's most-wanted terrorist, may be involved. The Tunisian government says he became a senior ISIS leader in Libya and was killed in fighting last weekend.
  • Tunisian officials have speculated that the adjacent Parliament building may have been the attackers' initial target, and that they may have switched to the museum because it had less security, the New York Times reports.
(More Tunisia stories.)

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