Tunisia suffers worst terrorist attack in recent history

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Marco Werman: I’m Marco Werman with The World. It’s one of those days where you just shake your head at the violence around the globe. Three deadly attacks today in Kuwait, Tunisia, and France. There’s been speculation that they may have been inspired or even staged by ISIS, but the U.S. State Department says there’s no evidence the attacks were coordinated. In Kuwait, at least 25 people were killed when a suicide bomber walked into a mosque and blew himself up. We’ll get to the attack in France in a moment, but first to Tunisia where there was a mass shooting at a beach resort. More than 30 people were killed, most of the tourists. Reporter Marine Olivesi is in Sousse, where the attack happened.

 

Marine Olivesi: What we’ve been able to piece together from the testimonies is gunmen, at least two of them, arrived on the beach from the seaside--they were using a zodiac--and they landed on the beach, opened fire at tourists who were just lying in their sunbeds. Then they moved on to the poolside of the hotel, continued the shooting there, and moved then inside the lobby of the hotel, killing more people there. For the few hundreds of tourists who were here today and witnessed the scene, it was obviously a very shocking morning. I met one of the British tourists there. Here’s what she told me.

 

[Excerpt from an interview]

 

Werman: Marine, what is known  about these shooters, and is it known if the attack in Tunisia is in any way related to the one in France today?

 

Olivesi: Well at this point, very few details are known. Everybody, at this point, is trying to figure out whether these gunmen have any tie to the Islamic State or to radical groups in the region, but at this point there’s nothing really that we can confirm. What is clear though is it highlights once again the big problem that Tunisia is grappling with. Tunisia is the country that has sent the most jihadists in Syria and Iraq; there are up to 3,000 Tunisian fighters with the Islamic State at this point in these two countries, and up to 500 of them have come back to Tunisia over the course of the last couple of years, according to authorities, which creates a huge security problem as to what happens to them once they come back. Clearly today, whether or not these gunmen have direct ties to the Islamic State, it highlights once again the security challenges at this point in Tunisia.

 

Werman: So, where does this raise the level of alarm among Tunisian authorities about how many angry extremists there might in the country right now?

 

Olivesi: I talked, a few days ago, to the president of an organization who is dealing with the cases of all these fighters who have gone to Syria and Iraq. What he told me is the lack of a cohesive policy when it comes to those who are coming back--all of them are usually, at first, arrested and followed by security forces, but there’s no system in place to really, case by case, evaluate to what extent they have been brainwashed or if they’re still posing a danger to society. So the attack like today, between the security challenges in neighboring Libya and all of these returnees from Iraq and Syria, once again really highlights the huge challenge to tackle the problem beyond just the words and the policies that have been put in place.

 

Werman: Reporter Marine Olivesi speaking with me from Sousse in Tunisia, just outside the hotel where the attack happened today. Marine, thank you very much.

 

Olivesi: You’re welcome, Marco.