Tunisians In Shock Following Attack That Killed Dozens

Jun 27, 2015
Originally published on June 29, 2015 3:09 pm
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

There were terror attacks in three separate countries yesterday. One person was killed in France in an attack on an American-owned gas factory. In Kuwait, a suicide bomber affiliated with the so-called Islamic State blew himself up inside of a mosque; more than 20 people were killed. And in Tunisia, ISIS has claimed responsibility for a mass shooting that killed at least 39 people when a gunmen attacked a hotel in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse. The suspect was killed, eventually, by security forces. Now, this attack in Sousse comes just months after another mass shooting at the Bardo National Museum in Tunisia. Farah Samti is a freelance journalist, and she joins us on the line from Sousse. Thanks so much for being with us.

FARAH SAMTI: Thank you.

SIMON: What happened on that beach?

SAMTI: What's confirmed so far is that at least one armed man walked into the beach, attacked tourists, people who are in the beach first and then walked inside the Marhaba Hotel, where the reception area is, shot more people there. And then he walked out of the hotel, again, back to the beach, and then back to the roads, where he was surrounded by policemen who killed him.

SIMON: And the people who died, overwhelmingly, were foreign tourists?

SAMTI: Yes. According to Prime Minister Habib Essid, victims include Tunisians and tourists. Most of the tourists are British, according to the prime minister, and some were German and Belgian, among other nationalities.

SIMON: Farah, help us understand what life has become in Tunisia following this and other attacks.

SAMTI: Right now, security forces are heavily present - both here in Sousse and in Tunis. This is a big hit to tourism - to the tourism sector, which is a vital sector in Tunisia. So, people are really worried about how this second incident within this year is going to affect the rest of the season because there have been, already, concerns after the Bardo attacks, so you could feel that when you walk into hotels. Other than that, I think the prime minister announced that the crackdown on terrorism is going to become more intense. He decided that 80 mosques are going to be closed immediately because their status hasn't been legal.

SIMON: Farah, as someone who interviews people there in Tunisia every day, what are some of the feelings you hear from Tunisians about ISIS?

SAMTI: We don't really see a presence of the organization itself, but we see these separate incidents and then ISIS claiming them. So, a lot of questions about whether these perpetrators actually belong to ISIS or are they being recruited after they commit something - just general questions like that.

SIMON: Reporter Farah Samti speaking to us from Sousse, Tunisia. Thanks very much.

SAMTI: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.