Manhunt launched for accomplices in Tunisian museum attack
Updated: 2015-03-19 09:06
Police officers stand outside parliament in Tunis March 18, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
TUNIS, Tunisia - Foreign tourists scrambled in panic Wednesday after militants stormed a museum in Tunisia's capital and killed 19 people, "shooting at anything that moved," a witness said.
Two gunmen were slain by security forces following the deadliest attack on civilians in the North African country in 13 years, and the president said the young democracy was embroiled in a war with terror.
The militants, who wore military-style uniforms and wielded assault rifles, burst from a vehicle and began gunning down tourists climbing out of buses at the National Bardo Museum. The attackers then charged inside to take hostages before being killed in a firefight with security forces.
Authorities launched a manhunt for two or three accomplices in the attack. Prime Minister Habib Essid said the two Tunisian gunmen killed 17 tourists - five from Japan, four from Italy, two from Colombia, two from Spain, and one each from Australia, Poland and France. The nationality of one dead foreigner was not released. Essid said two Tunisian nationals also were killed by the militants.
At least 44 people were wounded, including tourists from Italy, France, Japan, South Africa, Poland, Belgium and Russia, according to Essid and doctors from Tunis' Charles Nicolle.
"I want the people of Tunisia to understand firstly and lastly that we are in a war with terror, and these savage minority groups will not frighten us," said newly elected President Beji Caid Essebsi in an evening address to the nation. "The fight against them will continue until they are exterminated."
Essid identified the slain gunmen as Yassine Laabidi and Hatem Khachnaoui.
The assault at the Bardo, Tunisia's largest museum that is housed in a 15th century palace, began sometime after noon local time as scores of European tourists were visiting.