At least 37 people were killed and 36 injured when gunmen opened fire at two hotels in the popular Tunisian resort destination of Sousse on Friday,an interior ministry spokesman said.
“One attacker opened fire with a Kalashnikov (assault rifle) on tourists and Tunisians on the beach of the hotel,” said a hotel worker at the site.”
“He was a young guy dressed in shorts like he was a tourist himself.”
At least one gunman was killed near the Imperial Marhaba hotel. The other gunman was captured by police.
Tunisian Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui announced on national television around 2 p.m. BST that security forces killed one of the attackers, while a second gunmen fled the scene. He called the incident a “terrorist attack.”
The shooting is the second major incident in the North African country this year, and it took place during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The attack is the latest of three to occur on different continents, with one incident in France and another in
Elizabeth O’Brien from Dublin, told RTE radio:
“We were on the beach, my sons were in the sea and I just got out of the sea. It was about 12 o’clock and I just looked up about 500 metres from me and I saw a (hot air) balloon collapse down, then rapid firing, then I saw two of the people who were going to go up in the balloon start to run towards me – because I thought it was fireworks.
“So, I thought ‘oh my God, it sounds like gunfire’, so I just ran to the sea to my children and grabbed our things and as I was running towards the hotel, the waiters and the security on the beach started saying ‘run, run, run!’ and we just ran to our room, which is like a little bungalow. So we are actually trapped in our room.”
An image on Twitter taken by tourist John Yeoman shows that some people barricaded themselves in their rooms, too.
A tourist called Laura told the BBC:
“Myself and six other British tourists are still in hiding. The shooting started at 11:55 and we all ran inside. We then made our way to our room. We locked ourselves in the bathroom and could hear gunshots. I’ve never been so scared in my life. We can now just hear sirens and helicopters and are waiting to get the all clear before we leave the room. It’s very scary.”
Sousse is one of Tunisia’s most popular tourist destinations with 1.2 million visitors every year. It is around 150 kilometres from the capital, Tunis. It is known as “the Pearl of the Sahel” due to its highly rated beaches. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, tourism contributes around 7.3% toward Tunisia’s GDP, as of 2013.
However, in 2013, a 22-year-old Tunisian blew himself up in the first suicide attack in a decade outside a four-star hotel in the beach-resort town. It marked a massive change in the stability of the country that gave birth to the Arab Spring in 2011.
That year, Tunisia ousted former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and prompted the wave of dissent in other Arab countries that led to revolt against other leaders.
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