Africa

Tunisia attack: Bardo museum reopening delayed to Sunday

  • 24 March 2015
  • From the section Africa
Media captionThe BBC's Rana Jawad: "The director of the museum says this is more of a symbolic reopening"

The reopening of Tunisia's Bardo museum following the attack that killed at least 22 people has been delayed until Sunday.

The museum had been due to reopen on Tuesday morning but there will now only be a symbolic ceremony.

Security concerns appear to have halted the reopening, according to the BBC's Rana Jawad.

The reopening, less than a week after the attacks, was intended to show the gunmen "haven't achieved their goal".

Only the media will be allowed inside the museum on Tuesday. A small rally was held in front of the museum.

There are fears the attack - claimed by Islamic State (IS) - will hit Tunisia's vital tourism industry.


At the scene - Rana Jawad, BBC News

This morning's sudden about-face by officials around the Bardo Museum's reopening suggested a disagreement at the top over the security measures in place.

The orchestra still turned up, as did the children from a ballet company, a few dozen civilians and some foreigners.

For the small crowd that did come, this was a day to show they were not afraid. One placard read: "Culture is not a luxury, it's a necessity."

It's a message that resonates with many Tunisians who feel the militant attack was an assault on their culture, ideals, and way of life.


Security deficiencies

On Monday, Tunisia's prime minister dismissed six police chiefs.

Habib Essid's office said he had noted several security deficiencies during a visit to the museum, which houses a major collection of Roman mosaics and other antiquities.

Media captionThe footage released by the Tunisian interior ministry shows two gunmen in the museum

Two of the gunmen were killed by the security forces during last Wednesday's attack, while a third is on the run, officials said.

The attack was the deadliest in Tunisia since the uprising which led to the overthrow of long-serving ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

Suspects have been arrested over the attack but just two gunmen were thought to have raided the museum.

They are said to have been trained in Libya in an area controlled by Islamic State (IS) militants.

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Upsurge in extremism

The two gunmen seen in footage released by the interior ministry were named as Yassine Laabidi and Hatem Khachnaoui.

Media captionHow will the attacks affect Tunisia's tourism industry?

They were both killed in a gunfight with security forces inside the building.

In an interview with Paris Match, Mr Essebsi said that "shortcomings" in Tunisia's security system meant "the police and intelligence services had not been thorough enough in protecting the museum".

However, he added that the security services "reacted very efficiently" to the attack and had helped save dozens of lives.

At least 20 foreigners were among those killed in the attack, including British, Japanese, French, Italian and Colombian tourists.

Tunisia has seen an upsurge in Islamist extremism since the 2011 revolution - the event that sparked the Arab Spring.

In recent years Tunisia has been the largest exporter of jihadists in the region, and many of them end up fighting in Syria, reports the BBC's Rana Jawad in Tunis.

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