IS call sparks violence in France, Middle East
SOUSSE, Tunisia (AP) – A young man pulled a Kalashnikov from a beach umbrella and sprayed gunfire at European sunbathers at a Tunisian resort, killing at least 39 people – one of three deadly attacks Friday from Europe to North Africa to the Middle East that followed a call to violence by Islamic State (IS) extremists.
The shootings in the Tunisian resort of Sousse happened at about the same time as a bombing at a Shiite mosque in Kuwait and an attack on a United States-owned factory in France that included a beheading.
It was unclear if the violence was linked but it came days after the IS militants urged their followers “to make Ramadan a month of calamities for the nonbelievers”. In all, the assailants killed at least 65 people.
The SITE Intelligence Group reported later that the IS claimed credit for the Tunisia attack on its Twitter account and identified the gunman as Abu Yahya al-Qayrawani.
The attack in Tunisia, the country’s worst ever, comes just months after the March 18 massacre at the national Bardo museum in Tunis that killed 22 people, again mostly tourists, and has called into question the newly elected government’s ability to protect the country.
“Once again, cowardly and traitorous hands have struck Tunisia, targeting its security and that of its children and visitors,” President Beji Caid Essebsi told reporters at the RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel, near the beach rampage site.
Essebsi promised “painful but necessary” measures, adding: “No country is safe from terrorism, and we need a global strategy of all democratic countries.”
Rafik Chelli, the secretary of state of the Interior Ministry, told The Associated Press that the attack was carried out by a young student not previously known to authorities. At least 36 people were reported wounded in the shooting spree, which ended when the gunman was shot to death by police.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing at the Shiite mosque in Kuwait City that killed at least 27 people and wounded scores of other worshippers at midday prayers – the first such attack in the mostly quiet and relatively secure Gulf Arab nation in more than two decades.
In southeastern France, a man with ties to Islamic radicals rammed a car into a gas factory, touching off an explosion that injured two people. Authorities arriving at the site made a grisly discovery: the severed head of the driver’s employer was found hanging at the plant entrance.
The suspect, Yassine Salhi, was seized by an alert firefighter, authorities said, and French President Francois Hollande said the attacker’s intention had been to cause an explosion. A security alert for the southeast region was raised to its highest level for the next three days, and the U.S. Embassy in Paris warned American citizens to be vigilant.