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19 people including 17 tourists killed in Tunisia terror attack

At least 19 people were killed in the Tunisian capital on Wednesday after militants attacked a popular museum next to the parliament. The attack was the country's worst in nine years.

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid confirmed on Wednesday that at least 19 people, including 17 foreign tourists were killed in

a siege that lasted several hours

. A Tunisian citizen and a policeman were also killed after gunmen broke into the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, authorities said.

Tunisian state television reported that two gunmen had died in the violence, but Prime Minister Essid said some of the terrorists could still be at large.

Tourists from Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain were among those who lost their lives in Wednesday's attack, the prime minister added. Another 22 tourists and two Tunisians were injured.

EU condemns strike

The European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini condemned the attacks, blaming "Islamic State" (IS) militants, who were, according to her "once again targeting the countries and peoples of the Mediterranean region."

"This strengthens our determination to cooperate more closely with our partners to confront the terrorist threat," she said, adding that the EU was willing to "mobilize all the tools it has to fully support Tunisia in its fight against terrorism.

Gunmen opened fire on tourists as they were getting off buses outside Tunisia's national museum on Wednesday, officials said. Many tourists remained inside the museum until security forces stormed in and killed the two militants.

The attack dealt a huge blow to the small country, which is still recovering from the political uprising also known as the Arab Spring in 2011. Tunisia relies heavily on tourism from Europe and has tried to avoid terror attacks since leader Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted four years ago.

No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack as yet, but several groups have emerged since the uprising. Officials estimate that around 3,000 Tunisians have joined the "Islamic State" in Syria and Iraq, raising fears that they may plan terror attacks at home.

mg/jil (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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