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TUNIS TERROR ATTACK

TERRORISM

Third French tourist dies after Tunis terror attack

UPDATED: Tunisia's minister of health announced on Friday that a third French national was among those killed in the terror attack on the Bardo museum. In all 20 tourists lost their lives in the attack.

Third French tourist dies after Tunis terror attack
People protest outside the Tunisian General Consulate in the southern French city of Marseille on March 19, 2015. Photo: AFP

The Tunisian health minister announced that another French national was among the 20 tourists who had been killed in Wednesday's terror attack.

The identities of two of the French nationals were revealed on Thursday: 72-year-old Jean-Claude Tissier, from d'Aussillon in Tarn, southern France, and Christophe Tinois, a 59-year-old horse breeder from Castelsarrasin in south-western France.

Both were passengers on a cruise with the MSC Spendida, the tour company confirmed on Thursday. It remains unknown if the as yet unnamed third French victim was also part of the tour. 
 
Authorities in Tunisia are still trying to identify three other victims of the attack.


(Photo: Sofiane Hamdouia/AFP)

Tunisia said the two gunmen who killed 21 people at its national museum trained at a militant camp in Libya, as the country marked its Independence Day in sombre fashion Friday.

The Islamic State jihadist group has claimed Wednesday's attack on foreign tourists in Tunis, the deadliest since Tunisia's 2011 revolution which sparked the Arab Spring regional uprisings.

The two assailants "left the country illegally last December for Libya and they were able to train with weapons there," Secretary of State for Security Rafik Chelly told Tunisian television.

IS, which has hundreds of Tunisians among its ranks, threatened more attacks in an audio message posted online Thursday claiming responsibility for the museum massacre.

Authorities say as many as 3,000 Tunisians have gone to Iraq, Syria and Libya to fight in jihadist ranks, raising fears of battle-hardened militants returning home to plot attacks.

Chelly named locations of several suspected training camps for Tunisians in violence-wracked Libya, including the second city Benghazi and the coastal town of Derna, which has become a stronghold for jihadists.

The president's office said security forces arrested nine suspects — "four people directly linked to the (terrorist) operation and five suspected of having ties to the cell".

And a presidential source said soldiers were to be deployed in major cities following the assault, while insisting "we are not under siege".

As international outrage grew over the attack on Tunisia — hailed as a rare success story of the Arab Spring — President Beji Caid Essebsi said his country would not be cowed by extremism.

"The process of implementing a democratic system is underway, well anchored," he told France's TF1 television. "We will never move backwards."

Essebsi was set to make a speech Friday to mark the anniversary of Tunisia's independence from France in 1956, though celebrations were dimmed after Wednesday's carnage.


(Tunisian security forces secure the area after gunmen attacked. Photo: AFP)


(Photo: AFP)

EU 'shocked' by terrorist attack

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said the EU "stands with Tunisia in its commitment to peace and democracy".

"I am shocked by today's terrorist attack at the Bardo museum in Tunis," Tusk said in a statement.

"The European Union and Tunisia will not be intimidated by terrorism, at home or abroad. We are ready to support the Tunisian government in its actions against violent extremism and commend its speedy action to free the hostages involved," he added.


(The map above shows the museum, with Parliament attached from the lower right.)

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TERRORISM

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks

US Vice President Kamala Harris and French Prime Minister Jean Castex laid wreaths at a Paris cafe and France's national football stadium Saturday six years since deadly terror attacks that left 130 people dead.

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks
US Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff lay flowers after ceremonies at Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, at which 130 people were killed during the 2015 Paris terror attacks. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP

The attacks by three separate teams of Islamic State group jihadists on the night of November 13, 2015 were the worst in France since World War II.

Gunmen mowed down 129 people in front of cafes and at a concert hall in the capital, while a bus driver was killed after suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of the stadium in its suburbs.

Harris, wrapping up a four-day trip to France, placed a bouquet of white flowers in front of a plaque honouring the victims outside a Paris cafe.

Castex attended a minute of silence at the Stade de France football stadium, along with Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, before laying wreaths at the sites of the other attacks inside Paris.

In front of the Bataclan concert hall, survivors and relatives of the victims listened to someone read out the names of each of the 90 people killed during a concert there six years ago.

Public commemorations of the tragedy were called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year we weren’t allowed to come and we all found it really tough,” said Bruno Poncet, who made it out alive of the Bataclan.

But he said the start of a trial over the attacks in September meant that those attending the commemoration this year felt more united.

‘Overcome it all’

“We’ve really bonded thanks to the trial,” he said. “During previous commemorations, we’d spot each other from afar without really daring to speak to each other. We were really shy. But standing up in court has really changed everything.”

The marathon trial, the biggest in France’s modern legal history, is expected to last until May 2022.

Twenty defendants are facing sentences of up to life in prison, including the sole attacker who was not gunned down by police, Salah Abdeslam, a French-Moroccan national who was captured in Brussels. Six of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

Poncet said he felt it was crucial that he attend the hearings. “I can’t possibly not. It’s our lives that are being discussed in that room, and it’s important to come to support the others and to try to overcome it all.”

Survivors have taken to the witness stand to recount the horror of the attacks, but also to describe life afterwards.

Several said they had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, grappling with survivor’s guilt, or even feeling alienated from the rest of society.

Saturday’s commemorations are to wrap up with a minute of silence at the Stade de France in the evening before the kick-off for a game between France and Kazakhstan.

It was during a football match between France and Germany that three suicide bombers blew themselves up in 2015.

Then-French president Francois Hollande was one of the 80,000 people in the crowd, before he was discreetly whisked away to avoid triggering mass panic.

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