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At Least 37 Dead After Attack On Hotel At Tunisian Beach Resort

The body of a tourist lies near a beachside hotel in Sousse, Tunisia. Dozens of people were killed Friday when at least one gunman opened fire at the hotel, an interior ministry spokesman said.
Amine Ben Aziza
The body of a tourist lies near a beachside hotel in Sousse, Tunisia. Dozens of people were killed Friday when at least one gunman opened fire at the hotel, an interior ministry spokesman said.

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET

A gunman at a tourist hotel on Tunisia's Mediterranean coastal resort of Sousse removed a Kalashnikov from a beach umbrella and opened fire, killing at least 37 people, including British, German and Belgian tourists, according to government officials in the North African country.

Tunisia's health ministry said dozens were wounded in the attack.

The Associated Press quotes Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui as saying Tunisian security forces had killed the attacker.

He said that the gunman "infiltrated the buildings from the back before opening fire on the residents of the hotel, including foreigners and Tunisians," according to AP.

NPR's Leila Fadel reports that the attacker reportedly "strolled down to the water" as if he was going for a swim, but then removed his weapon from a beach umbrella and opened fire on tourists sunning themselves.

British tourist Gary Pine tells Sky News that he was on the beach when he heard what he and others thought was firecrackers going off nearby.

"There was a mass exodus off the beach," he said, as reported by the AP.

Pine said guests at his hotel were first told to lock themselves in their rooms and later, to gather in the lobby.

The attack in Tunisia follows another attack in southern France on a gas factory, where one person was found beheaded and a flag of the self-declared Islamic State was found. Twelve others were wounded.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said U.S. officials had no evidence as yet to indicate that the attacks were coordinated, adding "obviously, clearly, they were all terrorist attacks." As the AP notes, however, the attacks came days after the Islamic State urged followers "to make Ramadan a month of calamities for non-believers."

Homeland Security Secretary Leh Johnson said his department was encouraging U.S. law enforcement "to be vigilant and prepared" ahead of the July Fourth holiday, but did not elaborate.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said an emergency response committee would meet later Friday to discuss the attacks in France and Tunisia.

"This is a threat that faces all of us, these events that have taken place today in Tunisia and in France, but they can happen anywhere — we all face this threat," he was quoted by Reuters as telling reporters.

Later, the White House issued a statement referring to the attacks in France, Kuwait City and at the hotel in Tunisia.

"We stand with these nations as they respond to attacks on their soil today, and we have been in contact with appropriate counterparts in all three countries to offer any necessary support," the statement read. "Terrorism has no place in any society, and the United States will continue to work closely with our international partners to combat terrorist actors and counter violent extremism around the globe."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.

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