Last updated: 02:40 PM ET, Fri June 26 2015

Gunmen Attack At Tunisia Beach Resort, Multiple Deaths Reported

Impacting Travel | Donald Wood | June 26, 2015

Gunmen Attack At Tunisia Beach Resort, Multiple Deaths Reported

PHOTO: Police secure the area after gunfire broke out near a private beach in Sousse. (via Twitter)

The African nation of Tunisia has suffered another devastating attack Friday when gunmen opened fire on tourists on a private beach in the popular resort town of Sousse.

The Tunisian Interior Ministry told that at least 37 people were killed and antoher 36 injured in the terrorist attacks and the incidents were taking place at two separate hotels. Gunmen reportedly armed with Kalashnikov rifles opened fire on tourists on a private beach area.

According to the Associated Press, Spanish officials have confirmed one of the hotels involved was the RIU Imperial Marhaba. The AP reports that RIU's board of directors were holding an emergency meeting following the attack.

Tunisian Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui told reporters that the victims are mostly tourists. According to Reuters, the health ministry is reporting that British, German and Belgian nationals are among the dead. The Irish Times is also reporting an Irish woman in her 50s was among the dead.

The beaches are mostly filled with tourists during the holy month of Ramadan. 

Earlier in the day, Aroui said the police operation to catch the second gunman behind the attack on the beach resort was ongoing and that police and the gunmen were firing at each other, In an update, the second suspect was reportedly caught and arrested, according to Reuters.

He said one gunman behind "the terrorist attack was killed during an exchange of fire with security forces."

"A terrorist infiltrated the buildings from the back before opening fire on the residents of the hotel, including foreigners and Tunisians," he said.

Patrick Markey of Reuters was one of the first to report the attack:

British tourist Rebecca Miles was taying at the Royal Kenz hotel with her boyfriend Dean Anderson, 24, having arrived on Monday told MailOnline:

'We were told to go back to our rooms because there were reports of a bomb," Royal Kenz hotel guest Rebecca Miles told the Daily Mail. "I heard a bang and I thought it was thunder but it was a clear sky so it obviously wasn't."

Irish tourist Elizabeth O'Brien told RTE Radio: 

"We were on the beach, my sons were in the sea and I just got out of the sea. It was about 12 o’clock and I just looked up about 500 metres from me and I saw a (hot air) balloon collapse down, then rapid firing, then I saw two of the people who were going to go up in the balloon start to run towards me - because I thought it was fireworks.

"So, I thought ‘oh my God, it sounds like gunfire’, so I just ran to the sea to my children and grabbed our things and as I was running towards the hotel, the waiters and the security on the beach started saying ‘run, run run!’ and we just ran to our room, which is like a little bungalow. So we are actually trapped in our room."

O'Brien said the Irish consul in Madrid, Spain, called to tell her that it was a terrorist attack at the hotel next door.

John Yeoman is staying at one of the hotels under attack. He tweeted a photo showing his hotel room barracaded.

Yeoman also reported that the gunman was shot at his hotel and that there are reports that a child was killed in the attack. 

A hotel worker at the Imperial Marhaba told Reuters that there was just one gunman and that he was dressed in shorts and looked like a tourist himself.

British tourist Gary Pine told Sky News he heard a sound that “we thought was firecrackers going off” 100 yards away, followed by an explosion from the nearby hotel.

“There was a mass exodus off the beach,” he said. Pine said his son had seen someone get shot on the beach and that guests were first told to lock themselves in their rooms, but later told to gather in the lobby.

He said guests at his hotel were first told to lock themselves in their rooms, and later to gather in the lobby.

A security source at the scene told The Guardian that the body of one gunman armed with a rifle was still in the streets of the city where police had shot him dead. It was uncertain if there were other shooters or not. Graphic photos are circulating the Web of a gunman dead on the street and tourists dead on the beach, but there is no official confirmation that the attackers have been apprehended, wounded or killed.

The most recent terrorist attack comes only three months after gunmen attacked the Bardo museum in the capital city of Tunis in March, killing 22 people. ISIS claimed responsibility for the murders, which also included foreign tourists.


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