TUNIS: At least seven foreigners and a Tunisian were killed Wednesday when gunmen carried out a brazen daytime attack on a famed museum next to parliament in Tunis, officials said.
“A terrorist attack (targeted) the Bardo Museum,” ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui told reporters, adding that the assault was by “two or more terrorists armed with Kalashnikovs”.
“There are eight victims” including “seven foreigners”, Aroui said, adding that about 100 tourists had been inside the museum at the time of the attack.
“The majority of tourists were evacuated,” he said. Aroui refused to confirm reports of a hostage taking inside the museum, but added “there is information according to which there are still tourists” in the building.
“Anti-terrorist units have entered the museum,” and the surrounding area had been cordoned off, he said.
President Beji Caid Essebsi was to make a public statement to the nation, spokesman Moez Sinaoui. Prime Minister Habib Essid was meeting with the interior and defence ministers.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on the Bardo National Museum, a famed repository of ancient artefacts.
An AFP photographer reported hearing shots fired neared the parliament and museum and said police had rushed reinforcements to the area.
An Islamist lawmaker, Monia Brahim, the gunfire prompted parliamentary committees to suspend their meetings as lawmakers were ordered to assemble in the main chamber.