Terror attack at Tunis museum kills 21
Two gunmen burst into the National Bardo Museum in Tunis on Wednesday and opened fire with automatic weapons. The terrorists killed 21, including 17 foreign tourists, and wounded 44 others.
Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid had said earlier Wednesday that two or three other gunmen had escaped and were possible at large.
Essid told national television that people from Poland, Italy, Germany and Spain were among the tourists.
An Italian Foreign Ministry official says three Italians were among those killed in the attack and another six were injured. While Poland's Foreign Ministry announced that three Poles were among the wounded.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed on Twitter that two Colombian citizens were among the victims of the attack.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called the violence "a cowardly attack on us all."
He said he "cannot rule out there being German citizens among the victims," but couldn't confirm that at this stage.
An unknown number of tourists were also taken hostage. But Tunisia’s interior ministry said the hostage standoff ended after security forces stormed the museum and killed two of the gunmen. A security officer and a cleaning woman were also killed in the raid.
Tunisia's parliament building, near the museum, was evacuated during the standoff, according to a tweet by parliament member Sayida Ounissi.
The interior ministry said tourists were taken hostage by “two or more terrorists armed with Kalashnikovs.” Private radio station Radio Mosaique said the attackers were dressed in military-style clothing.
British, Italian, French and Spanish nationals were among those taken captive, local radio reported, according to the BBC.
Tunisia had been touted as an Arab Spring ":success story" - the only one. Their shaky democracy has been beset in recent years by Islamic terrorists from several groups:
Tunisia recently completed a rocky road to democracy after overthrowing its authoritarian president in 2011. It has been more stable than other countries in the region, but it has struggled with violence by Islamic extremists in recent years, including some linked to the Islamic State group. It also has extremists linked to Al Qaeda's North Africa arm who occasionally target Tunisian security forces.
A disproportionately large number of Tunisian recruits -- some 3,000, according to government estimates -- have joined Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq.
The violence that Tunisia has seen in recent years has been largely focused on security forces, not foreigners or tourist sites.
The attack is a blow to Tunisia's efforts to revive its tourism industry.
It appears that as we concentrate on fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, their influence in Tuniais, Libya, Jordan, Lebanon, and other countries in the region is only growing. But there is no comprehensive strategy to deal with Islamic State. And as long as President Obama and his advisors continue to insist that the terrorists are "extremists" who can be bought off by giving them a job, the cancer of IS will continue to grow.