Bardo Museum in Tunisia’s capital is due to reopen less than a week after gunmen killed at least 22 people, mostly European tourists.
A concert and a public rally are expected, with museum officials saying they want to show the world that the gunmen “haven’t achieved their goal”.
There are fears the attack – claimed by Islamic State (ISIS) – will hit Tunisia’s vital tourism industry.
On March 23, Tunisian PM Habib Essid dismissed six police chiefs.
Habib Essid’s office said he had noted several security deficiencies during a visit to the museum, which houses a major collection of Roman mosaics and other antiquities.
Two of the gunmen were killed by the security forces during last Wednesday’s attack, while a third is on the run, officials said.
The attack was the deadliest in Tunisia since the uprising which led to the overthrow of long-serving ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.
Suspects have been arrested over the attack but just two gunmen were thought to have raided the museum.
They are said to have been trained in Libya in an area controlled by ISIS militants.
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According to Tunisian authorities, 23 people were killed – though it is not clear if totals provided by the authorities include the gunmen. Some of the countries involved have given different totals and not all the dead have been identified.
The dead include:
- At least three Tunisians, including a police officer involved in the security operation
- Five Japanese were killed, according to Tunisian PM Habib Essid – although Japan says it has only confirmed the deaths of three citizens
- Four Italians
- Two Colombians
- Two Spaniards
- One national each from the UK, Australia, France and Poland [youtube Gqs3LClwmjo 650]
Tunisian authorities have arrested 9 people in connection with Bardo Museum attack in Tunis on March 18, the Tunisian presidency says.
The attack left 23 people dead, including 20 foreign tourists.
It alleged that four were directly linked to the attack and five had “ties to the cell”.
The army will also be deployed to major cities, the presidency added.
In another development, Islamic State (ISIS) said in an audio message that it was behind the attack.
It said the attack was carried out by “two knights of the caliphate” and named them as Abu-Zakariya al-Tunisi and Abu-Anas al-Tunisi.
Photo Getty Images
A statement described the attack as a “blessed invasion of one of the dens of infidels and vice in Muslim Tunisia”.
The statement was published by Twitter accounts known to be reliable sources of ISIS propaganda.
One of two gunmen involved in the Bardo Museum attack, named by Tunisian officials as Yassine Laabidi, was reportedly known to the authorities.
Yassine Laabidi and his accomplice, named as Hatem Khachnaoui, were killed as security forces stormed the museum.
It was not immediately clear how the identities of the gunmen corresponded to the names given by ISIS. Jihadist groups, including ISIS, often give their fighters noms de guerre.
Tourists from Japan, Colombia, the UK and other European countries were killed in the attack and more than 40 people were injured.
The suspects arrested on March 19 were not identified and no further details of their alleged involvement were given.
In a statement, the presidency said Tunisia was facing “exceptional circumstances”, adding that “terrorist operations have now moved from the mountains to the cities”.
“After a meeting with the armed forces, the president has decided large cities will be secured by the army,” the statement added.
On March 19, two Spanish tourists and a Tunisian museum worker were found at the museum after having hidden there overnight believing the attack might not have been over, police said.
Two cruise companies – MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises – said they were suspending stopovers in Tunis.
MSC said in a statement that at least nine of those killed had been passengers on its MSC Splendida cruise ship which was docked in Tunis. It said another 12 of its passengers were injured and six were still unaccounted for.
Costa Cruises said that three passengers from the Costa Fascinosa had died. Eight others were injured and two were unaccounted for, company CEO Michael Thamm said in a statement.
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Seventeen foreign tourists and two Tunisians have been killed after gunmen targeted Bardo Museum in Tunis, PM Habib Essid says.
Italian, Spanish, Polish and German citizens were among those killed, as well as a Tunisian and a police officer, the prime minister said.
Security forces killed two gunmen and were searching for accomplices, he added.
At the time of the attack deputies in the neighboring parliamentary building were discussing anti-terrorism legislation. Parliament was evacuated following the attack.
At least 22 tourists and two Tunisians were injured in the attack, Habib Essid said.
“It is a critical moment in our history, and a defining moment for our future,” he said.
“We have not established the identity of the two terrorists,” the prime minister said.
He added: “Reports are not final, these two terrorists could have been assisted by two or three other operatives.”
Security operations were “still underway”, with forces “continuing to comb the area to find out the remaining operatives, if any”.
The remaining hostages held at the museum had been freed, Reuters news agency reported, citing an unnamed government official.
Local media reports said British, Italian, French and Spanish nationals were among those taken hostage during the attack.
Local television footage showed tourists fleeing to safety, escorted by security forces.
A museum employee told Reuters the two attackers “opened fire on the tourists as they were getting off the buses before fleeing into the museum”.
The attack is a huge blow for Tunisia’s tourism industry and its government, which only emerged at the end of a long political transition several months ago.
The Bardo museum, renowned for its collection of antiquities, is a major attraction in Tunis.
Tourism is a key sector of Tunisia’s economy, with large numbers of Europeans visiting the country’s resorts.
Concerns about security in Tunisia have increased in recent months as neighboring Libya has become increasingly unstable.
A large number of Tunisians have also left to fight in Syria and Iraq, triggering worries that returning militants could carry out attacks at home.
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