Monday 20 May 2019

Terrorists in museum raid trained in Libyan camp

Visitors and tourists run for cover at the Bardo museum in Tunis as gunmen open fire.
Visitors and tourists run for cover at the Bardo museum in Tunis as gunmen open fire.
A fighter from Misrata carries a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) near Sirte March 15, 2015. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic (LIBYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)

Yasmine Ryan

The two gunmen who killed 21 people in an attack on foreign tourists at a Tunis museum trained at a militant camp in Libya, Tunisia's secretary of state for security said.

"They left the country illegally last December for Libya and they were able to train with weapons there," Rafik Chelly told the private Al Hiwar Ettounsi television channel.

They were named as Yassine Abidi and Hatem Khachnaoui. Mr Chelly said Abidi had been arrested before making his way to Libya, without providing details.

Yesterday survivors of the museum massacre told how they smeared themselves with blood and played dead as others tried to hide or escape from the gunmen.

Smears of blood and smashed glass were still on the doorsteps of the Bardo Museum in Tunis, even as thousands of Tunisians gathered outside the building to protest against a new wave of terrorism in the country. Until Wednesday, their fledgling democracy was the biggest success to emerge from the Arab Spring.

Isil claimed responsibility for the attack, but Tunisian officials said the two gunmen, who were both killed, had no clear links to extremists. Analysts said existing militant cells were simply being inspired by the group.

Horror

However, jihadists in Iraq, Syria and neighbouring Libya all claimed they had opened a new front in their war on the West.

Survivors told of their horror as the gunmen launched the attack.

Hamadi Alaa Eddine, who works with the palaeo-Christian collection at the Bardo Museum, described how he had helped to save 17 people by showing them a place to hide in a side room on the first floor. "I told them not to make a noise," said the 22-year-old. "I witnessed seven or eight people being shot."

Another tourist, "an Englishman", begged Mr Eddine to help his wife, who had been shot, but Mr Eddine was unable to rescue her, he said. It was not clear whether this was Briton Sally Adey, who was killed in the attack, and her husband.

Mr Eddine managed to escape the building long enough to inform security that there were people trapped in the side room.

A French tourist said that she had survived by playing dead after she was shot in the knee. The woman, named only as Maryline, from Paris, said a man standing in front of her was shot in the head.

"There was a great hole in his head. I felt his body slip on to mine. I understood that it was probably thanks to this person that I'm still alive," she said. "As we were still alive, we thought it would be best to play dead... in case they returned," Maryline added. (© Independent News Service)

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