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Nine arrests made in Tunisian museum attack

Last updated on January 21, 2018

Nine people have been arrested in the deadly attack on Thursday that left 23 dead.

A statement from Tunisia’s presidential office said that five of those arrested were directly connected to the operation.

Four others were linked to the attackers and were based outside the capital. While the presidential statement did not provide many details, it did describe the attackers as a “cell”.

In an interview with French radio station, RTL, Tunisian prime minister said that one of the attackers was known to the country’s intelligence service, but had not been formally linked with any terrorist group.

The announcement of the arrests came following a speech from newly elected President Beji Caid Essebsi on Wednesday in which he declared that Tunisia was “in a war with terror.” The country’s leader condemned what he described as “savage minority groups” after gunmen stormed the National Bardo Museum in Tunis.

Hours after police ended the siege, thousands of Tunisians held a nighttime rally in the city’s central landmark, Bourguiba Avenue, where the 2011 revolution took place. During the rally, people could be heard chanting, Free Tunisia” in defiance of terrorism.

“I want the people of Tunisia to understand firstly and lastly that we are in a war with terror, and these savage minority groups will not frighten us,” said Essebsi in a televised address to the nation. “The fight against them will continue until they are exterminated.”

The arrests follow one of the deadliest attacks on the North African country since 2002. Early Wednesday afternoon, two militants wearing military-style uniforms burst from a vehicle wielding assault rifles. They began gunning down tourists that were climbing out of buses at the National Bardo Museum.

The attackers, who have since been identified as Yassine Laabidi and Hatem Khachnaoui, then stormed inside the museum in search of hostages. Both attackers were killed in a shootout with security forces, but not before 23 people were killed. The ordeal lasted more than four hours.

Health Minister Said Aidi reported the Tunisia death toll rose to 23 people being killed, including 18 foreign tourists and five Tunisians. Among those numbers are one police officer and two gunmen, while nearly 50 others were injured.


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