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EU pledges aid to Tunisia following deadly attack

European Union leaders have vowed to increase cooperation and increase aid to Tunisia. The statement comes in the wake of Wednesday's attack - the deadliest for the Mediterranean country in more than a decade.

Brussels expressed sympathy Friday in the wake of a bloody attack on Tunisia's national museum, in which

gunmen massacred 21 people

. Lawmakers added that the EU would extend economic aid to Tunis:

"The European Union and its member states will intensify cooperation with Tunisia to counter this common terrorist threat, to strengthen Tunisia's promising democracy and to assist its economic and social development," the 28-nation bloc said in a statement.

The

"Islamic State" has claimed responsibility

for sending the two gunmen to the Bardo National Museum in Tunis, where they opened fire on a tour bus and killed more than a dozen European visitors.

"This is an attack on Europe and Europe has to respond," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in Brussels, where European national leaders were meeting for a two-day summit.

The militants - who were shot dead by Tunisian security forces following an hours-long standoff - were reportedly trained in Libya. Ruled by rival governments, Libya has been in a state of chaos since 2011, when NATO-backed rebels brought down Moammar Gadhafi, who had ruled the country for decades.

For now it seems the EU is hoping economic means will suffice, as national governments have little appetite for military strikes.

"We are not planning an EU military intervention," Mogherini said, adding that the EU would offer "all possible (options) of supporting even on the plan of security."

European leaders had focused much of their attention on threats from militant Islamists from the Middle East. But this week's attack means European capitals will now focus more attention on North Africa, where the Islamic State has gained a toe-hold.

Europe's leaders are considering a possible EU security mission in Libya, but they are reportedly waiting for warring factions to put down arms and agree to a national unity government.

jar/sb (Reuters, AFP)

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