Tunis | At least 27 people, including foreigners, were killed today in a mass shooting at a Tunisian beach resort packed with holidaymakers, in the North African country’s worst attack in recent history. The carnage came on a day of bloodshed with a suicide bomber killing 13 people at a Shiite mosque in the Kuwaiti capital and a suspected Islamist launching an assault on a gas factory in eastern France.
Witnesses described scenes of panic and confusion after the shooting at a hotel in a district of Sousse, about 140 kilometres (87 miles) south of Tunis. An armed man entered through the back of the hotel and opened fire, said interior ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui.
The toll is 27 dead including tourists, he told AFP without giving their nationalities. A dozen more people were reported to have been hospitalised. It was a terrorist attack targeting the Marhaba Hotel in the Port El Kantaoui district, Aroui said. The assailant was killed, he added, without ruling out the possibility that there was more than one attacker. The shooting came just months after a March attack on the Bardo National Museum in Tunis killed 21 foreign tourists and a policeman.
Gary Pine, a British holidaymaker, said the shooting happened at around midday (local time) when the beach was thronged with tourists. We saw what we thought was firecrackers going off, so we thought someone was celebrating. But you could see quite quickly the panic that was starting to ensue from the next resort along from us, he told Sky News.
People were exiting the beach pretty quick. We’re all looking up thinking, what do we do, what is it, but only when you could start hearing bullets whizzing around your ear do you realise it was something a lot more serious than firecrackers. The tourist area was later completely sealed off by security forces, a witness told AFP by telephone.
The French embassy in Tunis, in an SMS message, urged its nationals to be vigilant and to limit travel and avoid gatherings. President Francois Hollande of France and his Tunisian counterpart Beji Caid Essebsi both expressed their solidarity in face of terrorism, a French statement issued in Paris said.
Subscribe to our email newsletter.