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Second Man Arrested In Connection To Tunis Museum Attack

The 22-year-old Moroccan was arrested on Wednesday in the town of Gaggiano, eight miles from Milan. March's terrorist attack by three gunmen on Bardo National Museum left 22 people dead.

Last updated on May 28, 2015, at 8:18 a.m. ET

Posted on March 18, 2015, at 8:33 a.m. ET

A member of the Tunisian security forces stands guard as journalists gather at the visitors entrance of the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, March 19.
Fethi Belaid/AFP / Getty Images

A member of the Tunisian security forces stands guard as journalists gather at the visitors entrance of the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, March 19.

What We Know So Far

  • Twenty-four were killed when gunmen opened fire inside the Bardo Museum in Tunisia's capital.
  • Most of those killed were foreign tourists, including nationals from Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Australia, the U.K., and Poland.
  • More than 40 people were wounded in the attack.
  • ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in an audio file released Thursday.
  • Security officials raided the museum, killing two gunmen and freeing the hostages.
  • Two Spanish tourists were found alive in the museum on Thursday morning, having hidden overnight.
  • On Thursday, four people were arrested by Tunisian authorities in direct connection with the attack, while an additional five were arrested on suspicion of having links to the terror cell.

Updates

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Tunisian officials arrested a second Moroccan suspect in connection to a deadly attack in the Bardo museum in March, the interior minister said according to Al Arabiya.

According to Al Arabiya, Noureddine al-Naibi was arrested Sunday on suspicion of indirect involvement in the March 18 attack.

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Italy's anti-terrorism police arrested on Wednesday a man suspected of involvement in the attack on Tunisia's Bardo National Museum on March 18.

AP / Tunisian Interior Ministry)

Touil Abdel Majid, 22, from Morocco, was arrested by Italian authorities in the town of Gaggiano, eight miles outside of Milan.

The March 18 attack on Bardo National Museum in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, left 22 people dead -- many of them tourists.

Days after the tragedy, Tunisian authorities tracked down two of the gunmen, who were shot dead by security forces.

At the time, Tunisian president Beji Caid Essbsi said a third gunman was still on the run.

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Tunisian officials announced on Sunday that one of the perpetrators of the Bardo Museum attack earlier this month has been killed, the BBC reported.

Lokman Abu Sakhra was one of nine militants killed in a raid on Saturday, according to government officials.

On Sunday, people gathered in Tunisia's capital, Tunis, to protest against terrorism. Some world leaders are also believed to have taken part in the march, as a show of support to the Tunisian government.

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A French woman has died from injuries she sustained during the Bardo museum attack on March 18, the French president's office announced Saturday.

Attentat terroriste au musée du BARDO : Le président @fhollande fait part de sa tristesse après le décès de Mme DUPEU

"The President of the Republic expressed his profound sadness after the death in Tunis of Madame Dupeu, who was gravely injured in the terrorist attack at the Bardo Museum on March 18," a statement from the Élysée palace read.

"The president will pay tribute to our dead compatriots and to all the victims of this odious attack at a march against terrorism in which he will participate in Tunis tomorrow on March 29."

The death toll from the attack now stands at 24, with most of those killed being foreign tourists who had been visiting the museum.

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President Obama called his Tunisian counterpart Thursday to offer condolences and support after the attack, the White House said in a statement.

Kacper Pempel / Reuters
President Obama spoke today with President Beji Caid Essebi of Tunisia to offer condolences and support following the March 18 terrorist attack against the National Bardo Museum in Tunis. President Obama extended sympathy, on behalf of all Americans, to the victims' families and loved ones. The President commended the Tunisian people for their commitment to standing strong and united in the face of terrorism, and reiterated that Tunisia's inclusive democracy is a powerful example in the region and beyond. The President affirmed our continued robust cooperation on counterterrorism and broader security issues with the Tunisian government and offered continued U.S. assistance and support in the ongoing investigation.
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Experts believe that ISIS's claim of responsibility for the attack, while still unverified, is likely legitimate.

"It's being promoted by the official outlets, so I would be inclined to give this high credibility," J.M. Berger, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution who tracks extremists' use of social media, told BuzzFeed News. "This claim isn't a slam dunk for truthfulness, but it does appear to represent an official ISIS position."

"The idea that ISIS core leadership could have ordered an attack in Tunisia is extremely credible on its face," Berger continued. "They have very robust networks in Tunisia, and Tunisia appears to be the top contributor of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq."

Aaron Zelin, a researcher with the Washington Institute for Middle East Policy, agreed that it was "difficult to say for sure" whether the claim contained within the audio message was legitimate, but noted that "it's being pushed by ISIS's top disseminators online."

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, that if the Islamic State was indeed responsible, told BuzzFeed News in an email, "it is highly likely that the coordination extends beyond Tunisia. It would fit into a pattern of well-orchestrated IS expansion, including the group's advances in Libya, followed by Boko Haram's pledge, which [...] made defections to IS more likely in places like Tunisia. This would be quite a coming-out party for a Tunisian branch" of ISIS.

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ISIS claimed responsibility on Thursday for the deadly terror attack at a Tunisian museum, according to the SITE monitoring service.

The militant group said in a statement posted online that the massacre was a "blessed invasion of one of the dens of infidels and vice in Muslim Tunisia," the Associated Press reported, citing SITE's intelligence.

SITE intelligence also said on Twitter that ISIS had claimed responsibility for the attack.

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A total of nine people have been arrested in connection with yesterday's Tunis terrorist attacks, according to the office of Tunisia's president.

According to AFP, the presidency released a statement Thursday saying that five people had been arrested suspected of having ties to the terror cell, on top of the four arrested in direct connection with the attacks.

The AP reported that the statement referred to the attackers as a "cell", but didn't indicate whether they were part of a wider group.

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Four people were arrested by Tunisian authorities on Thursday in direct connection with the Tunis museum attack, according to the country's presidency.

The president's office also said that the country's army would be deployed to increase security and protect major cities, Reuters reported.

"After a meeting with the armed forces, the president has decided large cities will be secured by the army," a statement read.

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British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that his "heart goes out" to the family of Sally Jane Adey, who was named as the Briton killed in the Tunisian terror attacks.

PM said 'his heart goes out' to the family of a British woman killed in the Tunis attack http://t.co/lEKIF8RPJQ

Cameron added: "This is the latest example of extremist terror and we have to fight it with everything we have."

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The Belgian Foreign Ministry has confirmed that a Belgian woman died in the attack in Tunis yesterday, according to media in the country.

The woman is the wife of a man who was shot in the knee, VTM Nieuws reported.

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The British Foreign Office has identified the British woman who died in the Bardo Museum attack as Sally Adey.

British woman killed in shootings in Tunisia named as Sally Adey http://t.co/W6qvplcNF7

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The death toll from Wednesday's musuem attack in Tunis has risen to 23, according to the country's health minister. Meanwhile, Spain's foreign minister said two Spanish tourists had been found alive in the Bardo Musuem after hiding overnight. From AP:

Tunisia's health minister says the death toll in a dramatic museum attack has risen to 23 people, including 18 foreign tourists.

Said Aidi said Thursday that five Tunisians were killed, including the two gunmen. Authorities are searching for two or three other possible accomplices. He said several victims were brought in without identity documents.

Moncef Hamdoun, an official with the Charles Nicolle hospital where many victims were taken, said seven of the dead remain unidentified.

Spain's foreign minister said in Valencia that two Spanish tourists were found safe after hiding out in the Tunis museum all night after Wednesday's attack.

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The Tunisian Health Ministry has confirmed a British woman was among the dead in yesterday's attack on Bardo Museum. British Foreign Minister Phillip Hammond confirmed the news in a statement.

"Sadly, I can confirm the death of a British woman in yesterday's terrorist attack in Tunisia. Consular staff are providing assistance to her family. My thoughts are with them at this very difficult time.

"The Tunisian people are rightly proud of their democratic transition. Cowardly attacks, such as the one we saw yesterday, must not be allowed to undermine what they have achieved. I spoke to Prime Minister Habib Essid yesterday to offer my condolences to all those affected by this despicable act and to assure him we stand together against terrorism."

Earlier, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed that three Japanese nationals had been killed in the attack.

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Poland's foreign minister also confirmed that two Poles had been killed.

Two Polish citizens were killed in the Tunis museum attack, Poland's Foreign Minister said http://t.co/uPEWlLt2bK

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The prime minister said one of the two dead gunmen — identified as Yassine Laabidi and Hatem Khachnaoui — was known to intelligence services.

As the AP reported:

But no formal links to a particular terrorist group have been established in an attack that threatens the country's fledgling democracy and struggling tourism industry.

...

In an interview with France's RTL radio, Prime Minister Habib Essid said Tunisia is working with other countries to learn more about the attackers, identified as Yassine Laabidi and Hatem Khachnaoui. They were killed by security services in a raid after they attacked the museum.

He said Laabidi had been flagged to intelligence, although not for "anything special."

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Tunisia has faced scattered extremist violence, and a disproportionately large number of Tunisians have joined Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq.

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A United Nations Security Council meeting convenes at the U.N. headquarters.
John Minchillo / AP

A United Nations Security Council meeting convenes at the U.N. headquarters.

The United Nations Security Council issued a statement late Wednesday condemning the attack in Tunis, adding to mounting criticism from around the world.

In addition to saying no terrorist action can reverse Tunisia's progress toward democracy, the council also emphasized the the need to bring the "perpetrators, organizers, financiers, and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice."

Earlier in the day, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini blamed "terrorist organizations" for the Bardo museum attack that killed 21 people.

"With the attack that has struck Tunis today, the terrorist organizations are once again targeting the countries and peoples of the Mediterranean region," Mogherini said in a statement carried by Reuters. "This strengthens our determination to cooperate more closely with our partners to confront the terrorist threat."

Other leaders from across the world also issued remarks rebuking the attack and reaffirming their commitment to fostering democracy in Tunisia.

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A victim is being evacuated by rescue workers outside the Bardo museum in Tunis, on Wednesday.
Hassene Dridi / AP

A victim is being evacuated by rescue workers outside the Bardo museum in Tunis, on Wednesday.

The death toll in Tunisia's shooting massacre increased from 19 to 21 Wednesday night, nearly all of them tourists, authorities said.

Tunisia's prime minister said 17 of the 21 people killed in the attack against the Bardo museum were tourists. The group included five Japanese, four Italians, two Colombians, two Spaniards, one Australian, one Pole, one French national and one whose nationality had not yet been verified, the Associated Press reported.

Essid said 44 people were wounded, among them: 13 Italians, seven French, four Japanese, two South Africans, one Pole, one Russian and six Tunisians, according to the AP. Information regarding the nationalities of the other wounded was not released.

An Italian cruise ship company, meanwhile, reported that 14 passengers of the Costa Fascinosa docked in Tunis, where the Bardo museum is located, had not yet returned to the ship as of Wednesday night.

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People gathered on Tuesday night in Tunis for anti-terrorism demonstrations.

Rassemblement devant le théâtre national #Tunis #Bardo

شارع الحبيب بورقيبة قلب العاصمة #تونس توا #تحيا_تونس ✌ #توانسة #وحدة

Twitter users also started the hashtag #IWillComeToTunisia in a show of support of the country's tourism industry.

émue! #iwillcomeToTunisia #JeSuisTunisien #JeSuisBardo

"@helmiattia: #IwillcometoTunisia from #SouthKorea "@Narjess_ @samlondon06

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Three Italians were among the tourists killed, according to Reuters.

BREAKING: Three Italians dead in Tunisia attack, at least six Italians wounded: Italy foreign ministry

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Mexico's foreign minister said eight of his citizens were among the hostages who were freed safely.

Los 8 mexicanos retenidos en Túnez junto con otros 300 turistas fueron liberados sanos y salvos.

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A video released by apparent ISIS supporters calls on Tunisians to reject democracy.

"We swear we are coming to you with bombs, with guns, with dynamite," one man says.

The men criticized the government of Libya for allowing adultery, alcohol, and usury.

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Tunisian Tourism Minister Selma Elloumi Rekik told Italian news agency ANSA on Tuesday, just a day before the terror attack, that her country was safe for foreign visitors.

While conceding the security situation in neighboring Libya was concerning, she said, "Our borders are absolutely impermeable to any infiltration attempt. There is no security problem in Tunisia. Everything is under control.''

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Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement that the U.S. "stands with the Tunisian people."

Win Mcnamee / Getty Images

His statement read:

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today's deadly terrorist attack at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, where gunmen killed 19 people and wounded more than 20 others. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the victims' families and loved ones. We commend Tunisian authorities' rapid response to today's wanton violence and their efforts to resolve the hostage situation and restore calm. The United States stands with the Tunisian people at this difficult time and continues to support the Tunisian government's efforts to advance a secure, prosperous, and democratic Tunisia.

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U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has issued a statement, condemning the attack.

John Moore / Getty Images

"The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms today's attack against the Bardo Museum in central Tunis and deplores the loss of life," the statement reads.

"He conveys his deepest condolences to the families of the victims of this deplorable act. The Secretary-General also expresses his solidarity with the Tunisian people and the Tunisian authorities."

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Family of dead policeman grieve outside morgue. #BardoAttack

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Security forces have taken a number of people into custody.

Yassine Gaidi /Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
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These photos show the heavy police operation before authorities stormed the museum.

Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters
Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters
FETHI BELAID/AFP / Getty Images
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European Council President Donald Tusk, a former Polish politician, sent his sympathies to the families of the victims. At least one of the foreign tourists killed in the attack was from Poland.

My deepest sympathies to families of victims of Bardo museum attacks. EU stands united w #Tunisia against extremism. http://t.co/5BtPIz0hFP

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President Essebsi said he has spoken by phone with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who expressed his solidarity to the people of Tunisia.

تلقى الرئيس قبل قليل مكالمة من رئيس جمهورية #مصر العربية السيد عبد الفتاح #السيسي عبر له فيها عن تضامن بلاده مع الشعب التونسي #Bardo

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European Commission Vice President Federica Mogherini released a statement on the attack, which she said would reinforce the determination of Europeans to confront the threat of terrorism.

Mogherini also sent her condolences to the victims of the attack, saying the European Union stood in solidarity with the people of Tunisia.

"The European Union is committed to mobilizing all its mechanisms to fully support Tunisia in the fight against terrorism and the reform of the security sector," she said.

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Speaking at the Louvre museum in Paris, French President François Hollande expressed his sadness at the attack in Tunisia.

"Au moment où je m'exprime, dans un autre musée à Tunis, une attaque terroriste vient de se produire" @fhollande #DirectPR

"I express the solidarity of France to Tunisia," he later tweeted. "Every time a terrorist crime is committed, wherever it is, we are all affected."

J’exprime la solidarité de la France à la Tunisie. Chaque fois qu'un crime terroriste est commis, où que ce soit, nous sommes tous concernés

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Tunisia's president has met with victims of the attack in hospital.

#BCE left the meeting of the security Crisis cell to visit the injured victims of the attack #Bardo #AttaqueBardo

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Prime Minister Habib Essid told a press conference that 19 people had been killed in the attack.

FRANCE 24 / Via Twitter: @FRANCE24

He said the 17 of those killed were foreign tourists, including people from Italy, Germany, Spain, and Poland.

Tunisians were also killed in the attack, Essid said.

22 other tourists and 2 Tunisians were injured.

The prime minister said two gunmen, who were dressed in military fatigues, were killed by security forces.

However, he said officials are not certain yet as to the total number of attackers.

"As I speak, our reports are not final," he said. "These two could have been assisted by two or three other operatives."

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President Beji Caid Essebsi tweeted that he had left an emergency crisis meeting on the museum attack.

غادر رئيس الجمهورية منذ قليل اجتماع خلية الأزمة المنعقد بقصر الحكومة في #القصبة #BCE #TnPR #TnArp #AttaqueBardo #Carthage #Tunisia #باردو

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Security officials have now freed all the hostages from the museum, an Interior Ministry spokesperson told Reuters.

ETHI BELAID/AFP / Getty Images
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Security officials met at the government palace in Tunis for a crisis meeting to monitor the events, according to the government.

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These Instagram users took video of the scene outside the museum.

instagram.com
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View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

Security officers attempt to enter Bardo Museum in Tunis

Gunmen opened fire inside a museum in Tunisia's capital city on Wednesday, killing at least eight people, wounding six, and taking many more hostage, Interior Ministry officials told multiple media outlets.

All but one of the dead at the Bardo Museum were tourists, Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui said on television, according to the Associated Press.

Their nationalities are currently unknown. Three Poles are among the injured, the AP said.

Interior Ministry officials said two gunmen were killed in a security forces raid.

Tunisia's 2011 uprising against autocrat President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali inspired the Arab Spring in the Middle East, which resulted in popular revolts in Egypt, Libya, and Syria. While those countries fell into violent unrest, Tunisia has so far managed to avoid the chaos.

Government officials believe thousands of its citizens have fled the country to join extremists in Iraq and Syria, and there are fears that they will return to carry out attacks at home.

Tunisia television showing amazing footage of hostages escaping museum as security forces provide cover

Witness video showed hostages escaping the museum and the wounded being transported to local hospitals:

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

Here is the scene at the Bardo compound in Tunisia as hostages escape terror attack


This is a developing story. Please check back here and at BuzzFeed News on Twitter for updates.

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