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Terrorist attacks in 3 cities; 28 killed in Tunisia

Police take away a woman and a child from the building where the suspect in the French attack lived. -- AFP photo by Philippe Desmazes

Police take away a woman and a child from the building where the suspect in the French attack lived. -- AFP photo by Philippe Desmazes

Syndicated News
Written by Syndicated News

TUNIS — June 26, 2015: A gunman opened fire at tourists at a beach resort in Tunisia today, leaving at least 27 people dead, including foreigners, in what the authorities branded a terrorist attack.

Witnesses described scenes of panic and confusion after the shooting at a hotel in the district of Sousse, about 140 kilometres south of here.

The toll from the attack is 27 dead including tourists, Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui said without giving their nationalities.

“It was a terrorist attack” against the Marhaba hotel, he said. “The assailant was killed.”

The shooting comes just months after a March attack on the Bardo National Museum in Tunis killed 21 foreign tourists and a policeman.

In October 2013, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a botched attack on a beach in Sousse while security forces foiled another planned attack nearby.

In Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, at least one suspected Islamist launched a daylight raid on a gas factory in eastern France, pinning a decapitated head to the gates and injuring at least two others with explosive devices.

“The intent was without doubt to cause an explosion. It was a terrorist attack,” said President Francois Hollande in Brussels, cutting short an EU summit to hold emergency meetings in the French capital.

Hollande said a vehicle driven at high speed by one person, maybe accompanied by another smashed into the factory, around 40 kilometres from France‘s second city Lyon.

“At the time I am speaking, there is one dead and two injured,” said a grim-faced Hollande, calling for solidarity for the victim, who was found with Arabic inscriptions on him.

The 35-year-old attacker, identified as Yacine Salhi, had been known to security services for a number of years but did not have a criminal record, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

He was taken into custody and an anti-terrorist probe has been launched, he said.

The gruesome killing came nearly six months after the Islamist attacks in and around Paris that left 17 people dead and started with a shooting at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

For months, Europe has been on high-alert for so-called lone wolf attacks that are very difficult to prevent after Islamists urged supporters to carry out assaults wherever they could.

“There was a decapitated body with inscriptions,” said Hollande, although sources close to the enquiry said it was not clear whether the victim was transported to the site or whether the beheading was carried out at the factory site.

“A flag with Arabic writing on it was found at the scene,” said Cazeneuve, and the text was being translated.

The suspect entered the factory owned by American group Air Products and set off several small explosive devices, sources close to the investigation said, with at least two people hurt in the assault.

Police said it was unclear whether the attacker was acting alone, or had accomplices.

Security services drew up a file on the suspect in 2006 for radicalisation, but he had no criminal record, said Cazeneuve, who went immediately to the scene.

He had a link to the Salafist movement, an extreme form of Sunni Islam, Cazeneuve added, stressing that the investigation was in its early stages.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who is on an official trip in South America, ordered security measures stepped up at all sensitive sites in the area.

“This is a small town and a large industrial zone. There’s never been any concern in the region. We’re all surprised. We’re really in shock this morning,” an employee at a nearby business told rolling news channel BMFTV.

France has a high proportion of people that have gone to fight alongside Islamists in Iraq and Syria and has the biggest Muslim population in Europe.
Earlier this week, the country passed a controversial new spying law granting sweeping powers to snoop on citizens.
In Kuwait City, a suicide bomber blew himself up during Friday prayers at a Shiite mosque in the Kuwaiti capital, killing at least 25 people, and in an unprecedented attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

IS claimed what was the first-ever bombing of a Shiite mosque in Kuwait and the first terror attack in the Gulf state since January 2006.

The IS-affiliated group in Saudi Arabia, calling itself Najd Province, said militant Abu Suleiman al-Muwahhid carried out the attack on the mosque, which it claimed was spreading Shiite teachings among Sunni Muslims.

IS, a radical Sunni Muslim group, considers Shiites to be heretics.

Najd Province claimed similar bombings at Shiite mosques in Saudi Arabia in recent weeks.

The blast hit Al-Imam al-Sadeq mosque in Kuwait City, the interior ministry said in a brief statement without providing details.

The official KUNA news agency confirmed that there were dead and wounded, but also did not provide details.

A witness told AFP dozens were killed and wounded, and pictures circulating on social media showed several bloodied bodies in the mosque amid debris.

A security official said “it is a suicide bombing.”

Witnesses gave a similar account, saying a suicide bomber entered the mosque during the weekly noon prayers.

An AFP photographer who arrived at the site after the bombing said the area was cordoned off by police.

Kuwait‘s emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, immediately visited the site, and footage on state-run Kuwait Television showed him visibly moved by the scenes of carnage.

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