Gunmen kill at least 28 at Tunisian beachside hotel

Officials say one gunman has been shot dead and another is being pursued.

Amine Ben Aziza/Reuters
Police officers control the crowd while surrounding a man suspected to be involved in opening fire on a beachside hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, as a woman reacts.

Gunmen killed at least 28 people and injured 36 in an attack on a beachside hotel in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse, according to the national health minister. Most victims were British and German tourists, according to The Associated Press.

Officials say one gunman has been shot dead and another is being pursued.

Steve Johnson, a resident at the Imperial Marhaba hotel, gave The Guardian an eyewitness account.

He said: “We were just laying on the beach as usual... and we heard what at first we thought was fireworks but it was soon pretty obvious that that it was not fireworks, it was firearms being discharged, and people screaming and starting to run from along the beach towards us.”

A hotel worker said one attacker “was a young guy dressed in shorts like he was a tourist himself.”

Local radio Jawhara FM said one of the terrorists was wearing a police uniform as a disguise.

According to The Telegraph, the arrested gunman was a local student. Rafik Chelli, Tunisia’s secretary of State for national security, said he came from the beach, hiding his Kalashnikov under an umbrella before opening fire on tourists.

Five British citizens are among 10 people taken to Sahloul Hospital, hospital director Chawki Jebali told Mosaique FM.

The hashtag #JeSuisKantoui is trending on Twitter. Kantaoui is the tourist complex targeted by the gunmen.

It was the second major attack in Tunisia this year. In March, at least 23 people died when gunmen stormed the Bardo Museum. ISIS claimed responsibility for the incident.

Friday's deadly attack could also be trouble for Tunisia’s tourism industry, which comprises 15.2 percent of the nation’s GDP and employs 473,000 citizens – 13.8 percent of the total workforce. In 2014, Tunisia, hosted 6.1 million tourists.

The Tunisian assault happened the same day as terrorist attacks at a factory in France and a Shiite mosque in Kuwait. 

The Monitor's Dan Murphy analyzes the three tragedies:

Are these attacks connected? While it's hard to imagine central coordination for attacks staged on the same day on three continents, central inspiration may be another matter.

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