Tunisia cracks down on extremists

22 March 2015

More than 20 arrests following museum attack

  • Tunisian security forces arrest 20 alleged extremists
  • Displays of solidarity against terrorism in Tunisia and internationally
  • Attack is expected to affect tourism sector

Tunisian security forces have arrested more than 20 people, 10 suspected of involvement in the attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis on 19 March.

The others are accused of involvement with extremist groups, as the Interior Ministry announces a large-scale campaign against extremism.

News agency Reuters reports the attack killed 23 people, of which 21 were foreign tourists, and injured 46. Ten foreign tourists remain in hospital. The final list of victims includes: four Italian; three Japanese; three French; three Polish; two Spanish; two Colombian; one Russian; one Belgian; and one English tourist; and two Tunisians.

Several groups, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis), have claimed responsibility for the attack.

Tunisia plans to reopen the museum on 24 March.

The country has witnessed several marches condemning terrorism since the attack, while the international community has expressed solidarity. However, the attack is expected to have wider repercussions on Tunisia’s economic recovery.

“The Bardo attack is disastrous for the Tunisian economy. The tourism sector is basically dead for the foreseeable future and foreign investments will suffer, as well,” says Wadia Haddaji, member of Washnigton-based think-tank, Tuness. “The sad thing is that this will play into the hands of the terrorists who carried this attack.”

Tunisia welcomed 6 million visitors in 2014, who spent more than TD3.5bn ($1.84bn). However, visitors numbers are still 12 per cent lower than in 2010, before the revolution.

Security has been tightened around tourist attractions.

The Tourism Ministry insists only one cancellation was made in the wake of the attacks, by a Polish tour operator.

However, two cruise lines have decided to stop calling at Tunisian ports after their passengers were targeted by the gunmen.

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