Islamist militants are claiming responsibility for Wednesday’s deadly attack on a museum in Tunisia that killed 20 foreign tourists.
The carnage, which the group called “the first drop of rain”, was carried out by gunmen who were trained at a jihadist camp in Libya, Reuters reported Friday, citing the Tunisian government.
Tunisia has arrested nine people and plans to deploy the army to major cities.
Japanese, Italian, Spanish and British tourists and three Tunisians were among the victims of the attack, which took place in the heavily guarded parliament compound.
Tunisia was a birthplace of the Arab Spring, a wave of protests and civil wars across the Middle East and North Africa that began in 2010 but was largely spared its violent aftermath.
Cruise liner MSC Cruises said 12 of its passengers including Colombians, French and a Belgian, were among the dead while a Spanish couple was found alive on Thursday after hiding all night in the museum.
The assault was the deadliest involving foreigners in Tunisia since a 2002 suicide bombing in Djerba at a time when the country is only emerging into full democracy after its pioneering popular uprising four years ago.
The Islamist extremists, who have declared a caliphate in large parts of Iraq and Syria and are active in Tunisia’s chaotic neighbor Libya, praised the two attackers in an audio recording as “knights of the Islamic State”.
Tunisians make up one of the largest contingents of foreign fighters in Syria, Iraq and Libya and their homeland’s young democracy, which has cracked down on militancy at home, was a clear potential target.
The two dead militants were identified as Tunisians Hatem al-Khashnawi and Yassin al-Abidi. Two local newspapers reported Abidi had spent time in Iraq and Libya but officials did not confirm that.
Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid said Abidi had been under surveillance but “not for anything very special”.
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