Arabnews24.ca:Wednesday 10 May 2023 07:32 AM: Six people have died in Tunisia after a police officer shot a colleague and opened fire on a 2,500-year-old synagogue.
The attacker killed his National Guard colleague with his service weapon at a naval installation on the island of Djerba before seizing ammunition and travelling to a synagogue and shooting police and visitors on Tuesday.
The shooter was then shot dead by security guards. He has not been publicly identified.
Among those killed were two Jewish cousins - one French and the other Israeli-Tunisian - along with one police officer who died at the scene and a second police officer who died in hospital today.
Eight others were injured - four police officers, including one in a critical condition, and four civilians.
Tunisia's foreign ministry said the civilians killed were French and Tunisian.
Officials said they were investigating a motive for the attack.
Former tourism minister Rene Trabelsi said the attacker arrived on a quad bike and was wearing body armour.
The attack occurred during an annual Jewish pilgrimage at the 2,500-year-old Ghriba temple - one of Africa's oldest synagogues. It was unclear whether the civilians killed were pilgrims.
Videos circulating online showed panic-stricken visitors running while gunshots rang out.
"People were happy and dancing until we heard a lot of gunfire. Everyone ran away... some hid in my office and others in the other rooms. There was lots of fear," said Peres Trabelsi, head of Djerba's Jewish community.
The picturesque Mediterranean island of Djerba is off the southern coast of Tunisia and is home to the country's main Jewish community. It is around 300 miles (500km) from the capital Tunis.
Tunisia, which is a majority Muslim country, is home to one of North Africa's largest Jewish communities with about 1,800 members.
In 2002, a truck bombing killed 21 people at the entrance to the same temple during the annual Jewish pilgrimage.
Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for that attack, with German and French tourists among the victims.
The pilgrimage has had tight security since the 2002 attack.
In 2015, an attack in Tunisia at the Mediterranean resort of Sousse killed 38 people, mostly British tourists.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that attack, along with attacks that year on the famed Bardo Museum in the capital Tunis and on a bus carrying presidential guards.
Israel's foreign ministry described Tuesday's attack as a "lethal shooting incident", with a spokesperson saying it was still under investigation.
The United States and France said in statements that Tunisian security forces had acted quickly to stop the attack.