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Pope Condemns Terrorist Attack in Tunisia: Islamic State Claims Responsibility

Gabriel Bouys/AFP

Diane Montagna - published on 03/19/15

Jihadists threaten more to come

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis today strongly condemned Wednesday’s terror attack at a museum in Tunis, which has left at least 22 people dead and more than 50 others wounded, including many foreign tourists.

In a telegram sent by the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, to the Archbishop of Tunis, His Excellency Ilario Antoniazzi, the cardinal expressed the Holy Father’s strong condemnation of yesterday’s attack as an act “against peace and the sacredness of human life.” He also assured the Archbishop of the Pope’s closeness in prayer to the victims and their families, and to all of the people of Tunisia.

Pope Francis’ condemnation comes after remarks made to Vatican Radio by Cardinal Parolin, who decried the attack as “something most cruel and inhuman, truly unthinkable: it is to be condemned in the strongest possible terms,” he said. 

The Cardinal added: “We must hope, in the name of God, that no more violence will be committed.”

Yesterday’s attack at the Tunis museum is the first terrorist attack to hit Tunisia in over 10 years. It was the worst attack in the country since an al-Qaida militant detonated a truck bomb in front of an historic synagogue on Tunisia’s island of Djerba in 2002, killing 21, mostly German tourists.

Yesterday, two gunmen infiltrated security at the well-known Bardo Museum in Tunis, located just next to the parliament building. The gunmen abducted and killed 22 hostages, and left 50 people injured. Nearly all of the casualties were foreign tourists, suggesting that the terrorists are attempting to cripple tourism in Tunisia, which is among the country’s largest industries. The victims were Tunisian, French, Italian, Polish, and Japanese.

According to a New York Times report, ISIS supporters celebrated the attack in Tunis on Wednesday and circulated a statement claiming that two of the Islamic terrorist group’s fighters had carried out the attack.

A video first posted in December warning of violence to come has also been circulated by the organization online. The video features a prominent Tunisian militant, Boubakr Hakim, known as Abu Moqatel claiming responsibility for the assassination of two left-leaning politicians and urging his countrymen to take up arms for the Islamic State.

“You will not live in safety as long as Tunisia is not ruled by Islam,” Hakim says, taunting other Tunisians for failing to join his fight. “Women are more courageous than you are.”

One day after the attack, various groups are claiming responsibility for the attack. But responsibility for the attack has yet to be confirmed.

The city of Tunis is located less that 200 miles from Italy’s southern tip. According to Vatican Radio, tour operators have already begun reacting to the incident, with the Italian cruise company Costa announcing it will suspend calls to Tunisian ports. Tourism accounts for nearly 10% of the Tunisian economy, which is still struggling to steady itself along with the whole of Tunisian society, in the wake of a democratic reform movement that led to the ouster of the country’s long-time ruler at the beginning of what came to be known as the “Arab Spring.” 

Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.

Tags:
Islamist MilitantsPope FrancisTerrorism
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