UNIS, Tunisia — A massive manhunt was underway for two or three accomplices after terrorists stormed a museum Wednesday, took hostages and killed 19 people, most of them tourists. Two gunmen were killed when authorities swept in and freed the hostages.
The government blamed a war on terror, but no group claimed responsibility for the bold assault at the National Bardo Museum, a popular tourist attraction in the birthplace of the Arab Spring movement that led to democratic elections.
“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,” newly elected President Beji Caid Essebsi said in an evening address to the nation. “The fight against them will continue until they are exterminated.”
Late Wednesday, parliament held an extraordinary session where Speaker Mohammed Ennaceur called for the creation of a special fund to combat terrorism and passage of an anti-terror law. Thousands of people gathered at a downtown landmark for an evening rally.
Prime Minister Habib Essid said 17 foreign tourists were among those killed by the two Tunisian gunmen. Victims were from Japan, four from Italy, two from Columbia, two from Spain, and one each from Australia, Poland and France. The nationality of one victim was not released. At least 44 people were wounded.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abbe said three of the dead and three of those injured were Japanese. The Tunisian prime minister earlier said five Japanese were among the dead. Japanese broadcaster NHK attributed the discrepancy to initial confusion with names, Associated Press reported.
Abe strongly condemned the attack, saying that “terrorism cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.”
Essid identified the slain gunmen as Yassine Laabidi and Hatem Khachnaoui.
Read More:Accomplices sought in Tunisia terror attack.