Local authorities: 27 dead in Tunisia resort attack

In this screen grab taken from video provided by Tunisia TV1, injured people are treated on a Tunisian beach Friday June 26, 2015. Two gunmen rushed from the beach into a hotel in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse Friday, killing at least 27 people and wounding six others in the latest attack on the North African country's key tourism industry, the Interior Ministry said. (Tunisia TV1 via AP)

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) – The latest news from an attack on a beach resort in Tunisia (all times local):

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4.50 p.m

The head of the European Commission, Donald Tusk says that political stability in Tunisia is also vital for Europe and that the attack there was not accidental.

“I believe that it is not accidental that Tunisia is among the countries attacked by terrorists,” Tusk told reporters in Brussels Friday.

He said Tunisia is one of the few countries in the region that give hope for stability, albeit “very sensitive” stability.

For European and regional security “it is important to maintain political stability in the country, also because of the hot issue of migrants,” he said.

A gunman killed at least 28 people and wounded 36 in an attack on the beach resort town Sousse on Friday.

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4.40 p.m

German tour operators are offering people booked to Tunisia in the coming weeks the chance to cancel their vacations or change their destination for free, and say they’ll work to bring home people who want to leave the country early.

Major tour operator TUI said Friday that people booked to Tunisia this summer can cancel or rebook for free through Sept. 15. The company says it will organize early departures for those who want to leave Tunisia.

DER Touristik, the parent company for several other tour operators, says it’s offering customers booked to leave for Tunisia through July 10 free cancelations or rebookings.

It says it’s organizing places on planes for people who want to leave Tunisia. Neither company had details on whether cancelations already have been received.

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4.35 p.m

Tunisia’s Interior Ministry says the gunman killed by police was acting alone when he attacked a beach resort, killing at least 28 people and wounding 36.

The Interior Ministry had previously said two attackers were involved in the attack at a hotel and beach in the resort town Sousse, including one who had fled the scene.

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4.15 p.m

A terror expert says the attack at a Tunisian beach resort should “probably be seen as an attempt to destabilize the economy as well as the wider political situation in Tunisia.”

Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchins from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London said similar attacks had earlier damaged tourism in Egypt and Kenya.

He said Friday’s attack, which left at least 28 dead and 36 wounded, is “really is going to lead to a massive reduction in tourism.”

“We have people relaxing on the beach on their holidays being murdered – that is not going to help the attempts by the Tunisian tourist industry to get people to come to the country,” he said.

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4.05 p.m

Tunisian state television quotes the Interior Ministry as saying the toll for the beach attack in Sousse has risen to 28 dead and 36 wounded.

The Interior Ministry had previously said 27 people died and six were wounded after gunmen attacked the resort town Friday.

The Health Ministry said the dead include Tunisians, Brits, Germans and Belgians.

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4.00 p.m.

Germany’s foreign minister says his government doesn’t yet know whether Germans were among the victims of the attack on a beach resort in Tunisia.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier noted in a statement that the Group of Seven nations assured Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi of their support in fighting terrorism when he was a guest at the G-7 summit in Germany earlier this month. He said that “today’s attack can only strengthen us in that.”

Steinmeier’s ministry said it was working to clear up whether Germans were affected and a consular team from the German Embassy in Tunis was heading to the scene.

At least 27 people died and six were wounded in the attack Friday.

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3.30 p.m.

The Spanish company that owns the hotel at a Tunisia beach resort which was attacked by gunmen has offered its condolences to the victims and their families.

At least 27 people died and six were wounded in the attack Friday.

RIU Hotels & Resorts said in a statement that it is collecting information about what happened on the beach in front of the Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba in the Port El Kantaoui neighborhood of Sousse.

It said it is in “permanent contact with authorities.”

RIU promised to report its findings to the public on its Website and through social media.

The company’s statement made no mention of the nationalities of guests killed.

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3.20 p.m.

Rafik Chelli, one of Tunisia’s top security officials, told Mosaique FM that the gunman shot by security forces after attacking a Tunisian beach resort was unknown to authorities.

He said the man, from the city of Kairouan, came from the beach hiding his Kalashnikov under an umbrella before opening fire on the tourists. From there he entered the Hotel Imperial through the pool, shooting people as he went.

Chelli said there were many foreigners among the victims but he did not have an exact count of the nationalities.

He said authorities had a plan to protect the hotels during the month of Ramadan but this was an isolated operation that is difficult to counter against and there is never zero risk.

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2.35 p.m.

A tourist from Ireland says she was on the beach in Tunisia with her two sons when she heard what she first thought were fireworks.

Elizabeth O’Brien tells Ireland’s RTE radio she looked about 500 meters away and saw a hot air balloon collapse, then heard rapid firing and saw two people who were going to go up in the balloon running toward her.

Authorities say at least 27 people have been killed in the attack on the beach there.

O’Brien says she rushed to the sea to get her children and that waiters and security on the beach urged them to run as they raced toward the hotel. They ran to their room and holed up there.

She says her travel agent told her to go talk to someone at the reception desk but she’s too afraid to leave the room.

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2.30 p.m.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says the government’s crisis committee, COBRA, will meet later Friday in response to the attacks in France and Tunisia.

He offered condolences and “our solidarity in fighting this evil of terrorism.”

“The people who do these things, they sometimes claim to do it in the name of Islam,” Cameron said. “They don’t. Islam is a religion of peace.”

He said the attackers acted from “a twisted and perverted ideology we have to confront with everything we have.”

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2.20 p.m.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui says the police operation to catch the second gunman behind the attack on the beach resort is ongoing and the exchange of fire is continuing.

He says one gunman behind “the terrorist attack was killed during an exchange of fire with security forces.”

“A terrorist infiltrated the buildings from the back before opening fire on the residents of the hotel, including foreigners and Tunisians,” he said.

At least 27 people have been killed in the attack near two hotels in the coastal resort city of Sousse.

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2 p.m.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has confirmed that one of the two beachside hotels where tourists were shot in Tunisia, killing at least 27 people, is owned by a Spanish company.

Rajoy said from Brussels that the attacks Friday in Tunisia and in France were both acts of terror but did not provide more details.

Tunisian officials identified the hotel Rajoy referred to as the Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba in the Port El Kantaoui neighborhood of Sousse. It is owned by Spain’s RIU Hotels & Resorts, which has more than 100 hotels in 19 countries.

The company’s media office said RIU’s board of directors was holding an emergency meeting following the attack.

The media office had no immediate comment on what happened or the nationalities of victims but said the company planned to issue a statement.

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1:45 p.m.

Tunisia’s Interior Ministry spokesman has told the state news agency that the toll in an attack on a beach resort has risen to 27.

Mohammed Ali Aroui described the victims as mostly tourists but did not give any nationalities. Local radio has said those killed Friday in the resort of Sousse were mostly German and British.

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1:25 p.m.

Tunisian state television says the number of people killed in an attack on a tourist resort is now 19 after two gunmen opened fire on beachgoers.

There have been no details on the nationalities of those killed in the resort of Sousse on Friday, but during the holy month of Ramadan, those on the beach tend to be tourists.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui said security forces intervened immediately and killed one of the attackers, the other fled the scene.

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1:20 p.m.

A British tourist close to the scene of a deadly attack on a Tunisian beach resort has described his experiences.

Gary Pine said he was on the beach and heard what “we thought was firecrackers going off” 100 yards away, followed by an explosion from the next hotel complex along.

“There was a mass exodus off the beach,” he told Sky News. He said his son said he had seen someone get shot on the beach.

He said guests at his hotel were first told to lock themselves in their rooms, and later to gather in the lobby.

Tunisia’s Interior Ministry says two gunmen opened fire on a beach in the coastal resort of Sousse Friday, killing at least seven people.

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1 p.m.

Tunisia’s Interior Ministry says two gunmen opened fire on a beach near two hotels in the coastal resort city of Sousse, killing at least seven people.

Interior Ministry Spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui said that one of the gunmen was killed and police are pursuing the other.

Sousse, some 150 kilometers from Tunis, is a popular resort for both Tunisians and Europeans.

Aroui said the death toll could rise.

Tunisia has been battered by attacks by militants, most recently in March when two Tunisians returning from Libya killed 22 people at the national museum.

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This story has been corrected to say there was only one gunman, not two.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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