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Cruise ship passengers on shore excursions have emerged as the main victims of yesterday’s shooting outrage which left at least 20 people dead and dozens injured in the centre of Tunis.
Those killed in the attack on the Bardo Museum in the Tunisian capital included 17 foreign tourists.
Terrorists in military uniforms carrying guns awaited the arrival of coaches carrying tourists from Costa and MSC Cruises ships. MSC has this morning confirmed it is dropping Tunis as a port of call.
Two Britons have been confirmed as being “caught up” in the attack, according to the foreign and Commonwealth Office. More than 40 people were left injured.
Of the dead tourists, five were Japanese, four Italian, two Spanish, two Columbian, one French, one Polish and an Australian alongside two Tunisians, according to Tunisian prime minister Habib Essid.
There were 44 wounded, he added. Of those 13 were Italian, 11 were Polish, seven were French, six were Tunisian, four were Japanese, two were South African and one was Russian.
MSC Cruises confirmed that nine of their passengers were reported to have been killed, with twelve injured and six – two Spanish nationals, one Belgian, one British, one French and one Japanese – unaccounted for following the attack at the Bardo Museum.
“However, these numbers are still subject to modification whilst official identification is ongoing,” the line said.
The line's ship MSC Splendida was in La Goulette, Tunis, at the time of the shootings together with Costa Fascinosa.
MSC confirmed that Splendida left the port of La Goulette at 6am this morning en route to Barcelona where it is expected to arrive tomorrow.
“MSC Cruises is present on site with its crises team in order to continue to provide key assistance on the ground to MSC Splendida’s guests who were involved in the tragic events and needing assistance,” the line said in an update.
MSC said in an update early this morning: “According to sources it would appear that of the victims, three were of Japanese nationality, two French, two Spanish and two were Colombian.
“The wounded, of which three were Japanese nationals, one South African, one Belgian and seven French, are currently being treated in various hospitals.
“All of them are being assisted in person by members of the MSC Cruises Crisis Team that was immediately sent to Tunis to provide on the ground support.”
MSC Cruises executive chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago, was due to arrive in Tunis in the early hours of today “in order to make a close assessment of the situation, also to provide assistance to the victims and their relatives as well as consult with local authorities”.
Costa said 13 passengers had not returned to its ship, Costa Fascinosa which left Tunis port at 1.55am.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in an updated travel advisory: “There is a heightened security presence in the centre of the city of Tunis. You should be especially vigilant at this time and follow the advice of Tunisian security authorities and your tour operator.”
Essid said: “We shouldn't let the perpetrators of this horrific crime affect our morale.
“We should continue ahead and not let terrorism affect our morale and affect our system of a Republican democracy that is seen as an example of forgiving and moderation.”
Tourism is a key sector of Tunisia's economy, with large numbers of Europeans holidaying in its coastal resorts. A total of 424,707 Britons visited Tunisia last year.
Nineteen people, including 11 German tourists, were killed in a bomb blast at a synagogue in the resort of Djerba in 2002. Al-Qaeda said it had carried out that attack.
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