Isis claims responsibility for deadly Tunisia terror attack

Isis confirmed its involvement in an audio recording posted online on Thursday afternoon.

FILE: The slaying of 20 tourists in Tunis comes weeks after the African Union’s decision to deploy 7,500 troops to combat the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The Islamic State (Isis) on Thursday claimed responsibility for the deadly terror attack in Tunisia.

Isis confirmed its involvement in an audio recording posted online on Thursday afternoon.

At least 20 tourists were killed and 40 other people wounded in the attack at the Bardo Museum in the capital Tunis, the worst attack on the North African country in more than a decade.

Two gunmen were also killed and nine others have been arrested.

The slaying of 20 tourists in Tunis comes weeks after the African Union's decision to deploy 7,500 troops to combat the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.

Tunisian President Benji Beji Caid Essebsi declared war on terrorism following the slaying of tourists and the siege on a museum next to Parliament in the centre of Tunis.

Security has been stepped up across the country.

One South African woman was wounded in the attack and is being treated at a local hospital.

The international relations department said it was hard to verify reports that another South African was killed.

TUNISIA ARMY TO INCREASE SECURITY

Meanwhile, Tunisia said it would deploy the army to major cities.

Japanese, Italian, Spanish and British visitors were among those killed when at least two militants opened fire on two tourist buses during a visit to the museum inside Tunisia's heavily guarded parliament compound.

The assault, the worst attack involving foreigners in Tunisia since a 2002 suicide bombing in Djerba, came at a fragile moment for a country just emerging to full democracy after its Arab Spring uprising four years ago.

It is heavily reliant on foreign tourists to its beach resorts and desert treks, and the government was about to tackle politically sensitive reforms aimed at boosting economic growth.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but such an attack had long been feared. Tunisians make up the one of the largest contingents of foreign fighters in Syria, Iraq and Libya and their homeland's young democracy was a clear potential target.

The two militants shot dead by security forces in the Bardo attack had been identified as Tunisians, Hatem al-Khashnawi and Yassin al-Abidi. Two local newspapers reported Abidi had spent time in Iraq and Libya, but officials did not confirm that.

Tunisia's Prime Minister Habib Essid said Abidi had been under surveillance but "not for anything very special".

"We have identified them, it is indeed these two terrorists," the premier told French RTL radio. "Their affiliation is not clear at the moment."

Authorities said they had arrested four people directly linked to the attack and five others with indirect ties.

Tunisian forces had already cracked down on militants who emerged after the 2011 revolt. But Islamic State fighters are gaining ground in the chaos in neighbouring Libya and Tunisian nationals are prominent in their ranks.