Gunmen Kill at Least 19 in Tunisia Beach Attack

Tunisia Attack

Tunisia’s Interior Ministry and state TV said two gunmen opened fire Friday on a beach near two hotels in the coastal resort city of Sousse, killing at least 19 people. Interior Ministry Spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui said that one of the gunmen was killed and police are pursuing the other. Tunisian state TV said 19 people were killed in the attack. Sousse, some 90 miles from Tunis, is a popular resort for both Tunisians and Europeans. Tunisia has been battered by attacks by militants, most recently in March when two Tunisians returning from Libya killed 22 people at the national museum.

At least 38 people were killed and dozens of others wounded in Friday’s deadly noon rampage by a young Tunisian disguised as a tourist ready for fun in the sun.

From accounts of the attack by shocked survivors, tourists who stayed on, lifeguards and beach employees who helped at the site of the massacre emerge stories of love and horror.

On Saturday, the private beach of the 370-room Imperial Marhaba Hotel was immaculate with chairs lined up under straw umbrellas — and police tape sealing it off. Only the emptiness and an overturned lounge chair with flowers accumulating hinted at the horror. “Why? Warum?” read a note on one bouquet. “Warum” is German for “why.” Sousse is a popular destination for Germans and at least one German was killed in the attack.

Some people cried as they placed their offerings.

Tony Callaghan of Norfolk, England, was near the pool around midday when he heard what many others thought were fireworks. With his 23 years in the Royal Air Force, Callaghan knew better.

“I knew it was gunfire … The hotel was being attacked.”

A police officer who was called to the scene told The Associated Press that the gunman threw three grenades — but one failed to explode. He wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the case and asked not to be identified by name.

Belfekih said she was on the beach when she first heard the gunfire. She and her wounded friend only left their hideout “when we heard silence.”

The varying accounts of the ordeal made it difficult to understand exactly where the gunman was killed by police. However, he apparently went back downstairs to make an escape. Several accounts put the location outside. And no one who spoke with the AP could clearly describe him.

The hotel manager, Mohamed Becheur, said he had no details about the tragedy that befell his establishment, arriving later when notified and after the attack.

He has not officially closed the hotel, though concedes that everyone will shortly be gone.

“We may have zero clients today but we will keep our staff,” Becheur said.

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DeeDee Barker

Writer at The Pluto Daily
Writer/Design/Editor. Born in New Orleans but raised in Philly. DeeDee has been with the Pluto Daily since June 2014.