The Latest: UN Security Council condemns Tunisia attack

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Posted: Mar 18, 2015 9:34 PM
The Latest: UN Security Council condemns Tunisia attack

2:27 a.m. (0127 GMT, 9:27 p.m. EDT)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirms the deaths of three Japanese, and says three others were injured. Japanese broadcaster NHK, quoting an unnamed senior official, says the government is aware of the reports of five Japanese deaths, but that after checking them, they found that some of the names were overlapping. Abe told reporters in Tokyo that he strongly condemned the attack. "Terrorism cannot be tolerated under any circumstances," he said.

1:03 a.m. (0003 GMT, 8:03 p.m. EDT)

The U.N. Security Council has condemned the Bardo museum attack saying that no terrorist action can reverse the path of Tunisia toward democracy.

In a statement issued late Wednesday, the council extended its condolences to the families of the victims, the government of Tunisia and the governments who have lost citizens in the attack.

The council also "underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice."

12:46 a.m. (2346 GMT; 7:46 p.m. EDT)

An Italian cruise ship company says 14 passengers of the Costa Fascinosa, docked in Tunis, have not yet returned to the ship following an attack on the Bardo museum there.

Costa Crociere said in a statement issued late Wednesday that they were in close contact with Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and local security authorities.

The company said they had teams in Tunis to ensure all passengers are accounted for and that assistance is granted to all, including those who are not aboard.

The ship is scheduled to depart at early Thursday morning, the statement said.

12:19 a.m. (2319 GMT; 7:19 p.m. EDT)

The office of French President Francois Hollande has issued a statement mourning the victims of attack at Tunisia's Bardo Museum.

The statement released late Wednesday said Hollande was saddened by the deaths of two French nationals. He said seven French nationals were wounded in the attack of which one was in serious condition.

He extended his condolences to the families of the victims and expressed his solidarity with Tunisia.

Tunisia's prime minister said earlier that one French national had died in the attack and another victim's nationality had not yet been verified. It was not immediately clear if the statement was referring to the unidentified victim or someone else.

11:16 p.m. (2216 GMT; 6:16 p.m. EDT)

Tunisia's prime minister says a total of 21 people have died in the attack against the Bardo museum, including 17 tourists, two Tunisians and two gunmen.

Prime Minister Habib Essid said Wednesday that five of the victims were Japanese, four Italian, two Colombian, two Spanish, one Australian, one Pole, one French national and one whose nationality has not yet been verified.

Essid said 44 people were wounded, among them: 13 Italians, seven French, four Japanese, two South Africans, one Pole, one Russian and six Tunisians.

He did not provide any information regarding the nationalities of the other wounded.

9:35 p.m. (2035 GMT, 4:35 p.m. EDT)

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the U.S. is prepared to offer assistance to Tunisian authorities in their investigation of the attack against the Bardo museum and "will continue to stand with our Tunisian partners against terrorist violence."

"We extend our deepest sympathies to the victims of today's heinous violence in Tunisia and condemn in the strongest terms this terrorist attack, which took the lives of innocent Tunisians as well as visiting tourists," Earnest said.

He said American officials are in touch with Tunisian authorities and that the U.S. is proud of its "robust cooperation with Tunisia on counterterrorism and broader security issues."

Also, 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.

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8:45 p.m. (1945 GMT, 3:45 p.m. EDT)

An Italian Foreign Ministry official says three Italians were among those killed in the attack against a Tunisian museum that left at least 22 people dead.

The official in Rome spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't allowed to give his name.

He said another six Italians were injured in the attack.

Meanwhile, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said in a televised speech that Tunisia is in a war against "terror."

"These savage minority groups will not frighten us and the fight against them will continue until they are exterminated," he said.

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8:05 p.m. (1905 GMT, 3:05 p.m. EDT)

Spanish eyewitness Josep Lluis Cusido says he was inside the Bardo museum in Tunisia when the attack started that left at least 22 people dead and hid behind a pillar to save his life.

Cusido, the mayor of the small Spanish town of Vallmoll, told Spain's Cadena Ser radio station he spent nearly three hours inside the museum with his wife until they got out uninjured.

"We saw a bunch of people leaving a vehicle and they started shooting everyone walking down the plaza at that moment," he said. "After they entered the museum. I saw their faces: They were about 10 meters away from me, shooting at anything that moved."

"I managed to hide behind a pillar, there were unlucky people who they killed right there. I was lying on the floor almost three hours but our lives were saved", Cusido said.

Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said two Spaniards died in the attack, but none were wounded.

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7:30 p.m. (1830 GMT, 2:30 p.m. EDT)

An expert on extremism says that Twitter accounts linked to the Islamic State group are voicing elation at the attack on a Tunisian museum that left at least 22 people dead.

Rita Katz of the SITE Intelligence Group said Wednesday on Twitter that Islamic State accounts are applauding the attack on the Bardo museum and putting out "calls for Tunisians to 'follow their brothers.'"

SITE follows extremist and jihadi websites around the world, publishing translations of the latest announcements by various armed groups.

Gunmen stormed Tunis' main museum killing at least 20 people in the worst attack on tourists in North Africa in more than a decade. Two gunmen were killed, but Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid said a manhunt was on for two or three others.

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6:55 p.m. (1755 GMT, 1:55 p.m. EDT)

The United States, the United Nations, France and the UAE are among the nations condemning the attack on a top museum in Tunisia that left 22 people dead, including 17 tourists and 2 gunmen.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says "the United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today's deadly terrorist attack at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis" and offered his condolences to families of the victims.

Kerry, in a statement, also said the U.S. "commends Tunisian authorities' rapid response to today's wanton violence and their efforts to resolve the hostage situation and restore calm."

The UAE's foreign minister reaffirmed his nation's support for Tunisia's fight against terrorism and French President Francois Hollande called the Tunisian president to offer his support. Hollande says "each time a terrorist crime is committed, we are all concerned."

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6:25 p.m. (1725 GMT; 1:25 p.m. EDT)

Poland's prime minister has revealed that some of the Polish victims of Tunisia's museum attack were on a tour bus in front of the building when the gunmen opened fire.

Ewa Kopacz refused to give the precise number of Polish victims, saying figures were still being confirmed. Earlier Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry said that three Poles were injured, while Polish diplomats in Tunis were working to confirm unofficial reports that four Poles had been killed.

Kopacz did say 20 Polish tourists are safe and sound.

And Piotr Henicz, deputy head of Polish tour company Itaka, said 36 tourists on a package holiday to Tunisia were visiting the museum when they came under attack.

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5:35 p.m. (1635 GMT; 12:35 p.m. EDT)

Tunisian state television says the death toll in an attack on a prominent museum has risen to 22, including several foreign tourists and two gunmen.

Authorities say assailants opened fire on the National Bordo Museum on Wednesday, killing tourists and a cleaning woman and wounding several others. Security forces later stormed the museum, killing two gunmen and a security officer. At least two or three other accomplices may be at large.

State television said Wednesday afternoon that the death toll had risen to 22 people, including the two attackers. The report, citing medical officials, did not give a breakdown of nationalities.

World leaders offered their support to Tunisia's government. The prime minister promised extra security in tourist zones and asked residents to be extra alert.

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4:25 p.m. (1525 GMT; 11:25 a.m. EDT)

Tunisia's prime minister says 21 people are dead after an attack on a major museum, including 17 foreign tourists — and that two or three of the attackers remain at large.

Habib Essid told national television that the foreigners included tourists from Poland, Italy, Germany and Spain.

He said that two of the attackers were killed in a gunfight with police on Wednesday, and that security forces are hunting for two or three others believed to have been involved.

The attack was the worst in years on a tourist site in Tunisia, which is struggling to solidify its young democracy and prevent violence by Islamic extremists.

Seventeen foreigners were killed, as were a Tunisian security officer and a cleaning woman, the interior ministry spokesman said.

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3:55 p.m. (1455 GMT; 10:55 a.m. EDT)

Italy's Foreign Ministry says two Italians have been injured in an attack on a leading museum in Tunisia's capital, and 100 Italians inside the museum have been taken to a secure location.

At least 11 people were killed in Wednesday's attack and ensuing gunfight at the National Bardo Museum, including seven foreign tourists and the two gunmen, Tunisian authorities said.

Some of the Italians in the museum were believed to have been passengers aboard the Costa Fascinosa, a cruise liner making a seven-day trip of the western Mediterranean that had docked in Tunis.

Ship owner Costa Crociere confirmed that some of the 3,161 passengers were visiting the Tunisian capital Wednesday and that a tour of the Bardo was on the itinerary, but said it couldn't confirm how many, if any, passengers were in the museum at the time. It said it had recalled all the passengers to the ship and was in touch with local authorities and the Italian Foreign Ministry.

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3:30 p.m. (1430 GMT; 10:30 a.m. EDT)

Tunisia's Interior Ministry says two gunmen and a security officer have been killed in a raid on a major museum that left several tourists dead.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui said on Radio Mosaique that the standoff is over after the raid Wednesday afternoon.

The two gunmen had opened fire on the National Bardo Museum earlier Wednesday. Authorities said at least eight people were killed, including seven foreign tourists, and six people were wounded. Several tourists remained holed up inside the museum before security forces surrounded and then stormed the building.

It was the worst attack on a tourist site in Tunisia in years, and comes as the country is trying to establish democracy and keep Islamic extremists at bay.

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1:30 p.m. (1230 GMT; 8:30 a.m. EDT)

A Tunisian official says eight people have been killed in a shooting attack on a leading museum.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui said on Radio Mosaique that only one of the dead in Wednesday's attack was a Tunisian. He did not provide nationalities for the others.

The National Bardo Museum is adjacent to the national parliament building, which was being evacuated after the shooting.

The museum is a leading tourist attraction that chronicles Tunisia's history and houses one of the world's largest collections of Roman mosaics.

It is unclear who the attackers are. Tunisia has struggled with violence by Islamic extremists in recent years, including some linked to the Islamic State group.