Tunisia says attack near synagogue leaves four people dead

Tunisia says attack near synagogue leaves four people dead. (Photo/Reuters)

Two worshippers participating in an annual Jewish pilgrimage to a renowned Tunisian synagogue and two members of the security services have been shot dead in an attack carried out by a police officer, the Interior Ministry said.

Four other visitors to the Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba and five more security officers were wounded in the attack on Tuesday before the assailant was also killed, the ministry said.

In a statement, the Tunisian Foreign Ministry identified the two worshippers killed as a Tunisian, aged 30, and a French national, aged 42, but did not give their names.

The attack occurred after the assailant first shot a colleague dead and took his ammunition, according to the Interior Ministry.

He then went to the Ghriba synagogue — Africa's oldest — as hundreds of people were taking part in the annual pilgrimage, which was drawing to a close on Tuesday night.

The synagogue was previously targeted in a suicide truck bombing that killed 21 in 2002.

"Investigations are continuing in order to shed light on the motives for this cowardly aggression," the Interior Ministry said, refraining from referring to the shooting as a terrorist attack.

The sound of gunshots at the synagogue had sparked panic among the hundreds of pilgrims, according to local media.

Previous attacks

The annual pilgrimage to Africa's oldest synagogue regularly draws hundreds of Jews from Europe and Israel to Djerba, a holiday destination off the coast of southern Tunisia, 500 km from the capital Tunis.

The pilgrimage has had tight security since al Qaeda militants attacked the synagogue in 2002 with a truck bomb, killing 21 tourists.

Militants killed scores of tourists in two separate attacks at a beach resort and a Tunis museum in 2015.

Mainly Muslim Tunisia is home to one of North Africa's largest Jewish communities; though they now number fewer than 1,800 people, Jews have lived in Tunisia since Roman times.

According to organisers, more than 5,000 Jewish faithful, mostly from overseas, participated in this year's pilgrimage to Ghriba, which resumed in 2022 after two years of pandemic-related suspension.


Source: TRT World