Sousse, Tunisia Beach Shooting Has Left Dozens Of People Dead — UPDATE
A Friday morning shooting at a beach resort in Tunisia has left at least 37 people dead, according to the country's Interior Ministry. Reuters reported that at least one of the gunmen is dead after the attack in Sousse, a popular beach town. The tragedy comes just three months after an attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis, which left 21 tourists and one Tunisian dead. Later Friday, the Islamic State, which had also claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Kuwait that killed more than a dozen people, claimed responsibility for the attack.
According to the online publication Inkyfada, a number of other people were injured. The death toll rose throughout the day, initially starting at seven and quickly soaring into the double digits. According to Al Jazeera, the gunmen may have specifically targeted tourists.
The attack was on the Imperial Marhaba, a popular five-star resort frequented by vacationers. As several outlets have already pointed out, this awful mass shooting and March's killings at the Bardo will be a severe blow to Tunisia's economy, which largely relies on tourism.
British tourist Gary Pine told Sky News:
We thought fire crackers were going off but you could see quite quickly what was going on. There was a mass exodus off the beach. My son was in the sea at the time and myself and my wife were shouting at him to get out and as he ran up he said I’ve just saw someone get shot.
Another tourist, Susan Ricketts, also told the outlet: "It sounded like a machine gun going off. There are people crying and going hysterical. We just came up to our room."
The BBC received an email from a guest at a neighboring hotel, only identified as Paul:
We are staying at the Royal Kenz hotel. We were in the hotel pool when we heard what sounded like gunfire - lots of rapid shots - the staff then told us all to get inside. Currently we are still confined to the hotel with a helicopter circling above.
Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui said that most of the people killed were tourists, but declined to say what country. Local radio, however, says that most of the deceased were German and British.
According to the BBC, Tunisia attracts 6.1 million tourists per year. Out of towners make for a thriving economy that makes up 15.2 percent of Tunisia's GDP. As The New York Times notes, Tunisia has faced numerous terrorist attacks since overthrowing its dictator in 2011, but the brutality has just now focused on tourists.
Images: Flickr/Tony Hisgett (1)