Officials said at least 27 people and possibly more, including foreign tourists had been killed when a sole gunman opened fire at a beachside hotel in Tunisia in popular Sousse on Friday said a spokesperson from the Ministry of the Interior.
Police cleared the area near the Imperial Marhaba Hotel while the sole gunman lay dead at the scene with an assault rifle after he was shot in killed during an exchange of gunfire with security forces.
This was the second major terror attack in the country, located in North Africa in 2015, and took place during Ramadan the holy Muslim month.
One worker at the hotel said that just one attacker had opened fire on Tunisians and tourists with his Kalashnikov on the beach. He said the attacker had been dressed in shorts like he had been a tourist himself.
Tunisia has been praised as a model for democratic transition since its Arab Spring uprising in 2011 and is one of the Arab world’s most secular nations. Its resorts on the beach and nightclubs along the Mediterranean attract many visitors from Europe.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but Islamist militants have attacked tourist sites in North Africa before.
Besides the dead, another six were wounded, said a spokesperson from the ministry.
Elizabeth O’Brien, from Ireland, who had been staying at a hotel nearby with two of her sons, said panic broke out on the beach when the gunfire erupted.
Sousse is one of the most popular Tunisia beach resorts. It draws visitors from nearby North African nations and Europeans. Tourism is a major income source for the government.
Tunisia since March has been on a high alert. That is when militant gunmen attacked Tunis’ Bardo museum killing foreign tourists.
Since its uprising in 2011, that ousted Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali the autocrat, Tunisia has received praise for its rather peaceful transition to democracy.
However, there has also been a rise in militant, hardline Islamists.