Tunisian authorities are now investigating the attack in the island of Djerba, where two guards and two Jewish visitors were shot and killed.
DJERBA – Tuesday evening, a Tunisian security officer attacked Jews worshipping at the ancient El-Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba, killing two Jewish visitors and two Tunisian guards.
The attack occurred during the celebration of Lag BaOmer, when Tunisian Jews from different countries, visit the island.
The Interior Ministry of Tunisia stated that a nearby naval guard killed a fellow guard and stole his ammunition. He then continued toward El-Ghriba, where he fatally shot two visitors and another security guard before being slain by synagogue security officers. Tuesday, the ministry reported that ten persons, including six guards and four civilians, were injured in the exchange of gunfire. The ministry has not disclosed the attacker’s identity.
UPDATE – Wednesday, 12:15PM Tunis time:
According to Radio Mosaique FM reporter in Djerba, the perpetrator aimed to reach the synagogue. But when he reached the parking lot and saw that groups of pilgrims were leaving, he started shooting.
The reporter suggests that the shooting lasted for about 15 minutes before he was shot down. The reaction of security officers deployed at the synagogue is perceived to be slow as the whole situation was confusing to them.
All security officers deployed to secure the island of Djerba during the pilgrimage have a special badge, indicating a special accreditation. The perpetrator did not. Yet, he was able to go all the way from Aghir to Ghriba, about 21KM distance long, on a Quad.
UPDATE – Wednesday, 10AM Tunis time:
A second police officer have passed away due to injury from yesterday’s incident in Djerba TAP News agency reports
Two more officers remain in critical condition, one will be transferred to Tunis military hospital due to a severe brain hemorrhage
UPDATE – Wednesday, 9AM Tunis time:
Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs just confirmed that the two El Ghriba synagogue civilian victims are a Tunisian 30 year-old citizen and a 42-year-old French national.
Both civilian victims from yesterday’s synagogue attack are Tunisian cousins from the Haddad family, former Tourism minister, René Trabelsi, told Radio Mosaique FM this morning. The 42-year-old reported French victim, holds dual citizenship.
UPDATE – Wednesday, 8AM Tunis time:
The United States, France, UAE, Spain, Italy, Egypt, Germany, Libya and a number of other countries condemn the shooting attack in Djerba.
US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller condemns the killing of three people at a shooting at near a synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba as hundreds of Jews held an annual pilgrimage there.
“The United States deplores the attack in Tunisia coinciding with the annual Jewish pilgrimage that draws faithful to the El Ghriba Synagogue from around the world,” he says on Twitter.
“We express condolences to the Tunisian people and commend the rapid action of Tunisian security forces,” he says.
France was “appalled and deeply saddened to learn of the attack perpetrated at the El Ghriba synagogue in Djerba, which claimed the lives of four people including one French national, worshippers and members of the Tunisian security forces.”
The French Foreign Ministry said “It utterly condemns this heinous act, perpetrated during an annual Jewish pilgrimage and painfully echoing the suicide attack that killed 21 people in the same synagogue in 2002.”
UPDATE – Tuesday, 11:08PM Tunis time:
More than an hour after the shooting where heard in Djerba, Tunisia’s Ministry of Interior confirms the killing of a National Guard officer by one of his colleagues in Aghir 21KM from the synagogue.
While trying to reach the synagogue, he engaged with other security officers, killing one and injuring 5 others. Two Jewish pilgrims and 4 other civilians were injured and transferred to the Hospital Sadok Mkadem, 8km from the synagogue. The Ministry of Interior statement does not use the word “terrorism”.