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Islamic State claims responsibility for Tunisian museum attack

Updated: 2015-03-20 07:52

Islamic State claims responsibility for Tunisian museum attack

A still image taken from video shows tourists running for cover as armed men stand guard at Tunisia's national museum in Tunis, March 18, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

In the afternoon, authorities opened the gates of the museum for a rally in defiance of the bloodshed. About 500 people - some carrying flowers for the victims - held a moment of silence before singing Tunisia's national anthem. Participants included black-robed lawyers, families with children, and teenagers swathed in the red-and-white Tunisian flag.

A funeral was held for Aymen Morjen - an elite member of Tunisia's security force who was killed at the museum. Interior Minister Mohamed Najem Gharsalli and House Speaker Mohamed Ennaceur attended the service.

It was among the museum's Roman-era mosaics that the militants dressed in military uniforms and armed with grenades and assault rifles took hostages and began shooting the foreigners.

"Suddenly, we started to hear the gunshots, so we all tried to escape and all of us tried to save ourselves as best we could," said Bruna Scherini, an Italian who arrived by cruise ship. She told Sky TG24 from her hospital bed: "We tried to hide behind the exhibits and in the corners where there was a little hiding place."

A Spanish man and a pregnant Spanish woman who survived hid in the museum all night in fear. Spain's foreign minister said police searched all night before Juan Carlos Sanchez and Cristina Rubio were found Thursday morning by security forces.

The Health Ministry said the death toll rose to 23 on Thursday - 20 of them foreign tourists. Nearly 50 people were wounded. Three Tunisians were killed, including the two attackers.

Dr. Samar Samoud of the Health Ministry said six of the dead foreigners remained unidentified. She listed the rest of the foreign victims as three from Japan, three from France, two from Spain, and one each from Australia, Colombia, Britain, Poland, Belgium and Italy.

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