SA in contact with Tunisian authorities

Dirco is trying to confirm if any South Africans were killed or wounded in the attack.

Tunisian security forces secure the area after gunmen attacked the famed Bardo Museum on 18 March, 2015. Picture: AF

PRETORIA - The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) says it's in touch with officials in Tunisia who are trying to confirm if any South Africans were wounded or killed in a terror attack.

At least 19 people, including two assailants, were killed when gunmen stormed the Bardo museum in the capital of Tunis yesterday, taking a group of hostages made up mostly of tourists.

Dirco's Nelson Kgwete says they're waiting for a report from Tunis.

"We're still waiting for a report from our embassy in Tunisia who are in contact with Tunisian authorities. We will be able to indicate officially what the status is once we receive that report."

Earlier Tunisia's interior ministry said a South African was among tourists killed in yesterday's terror attack in the capital.

Tunisian authorities also said South Africans are among those wounded by AK-47 wielding militants.

Kgwete says the government still cannot give any confirmation of the reports as yet.

"We have noted speculations that a South African citizen also lost his life in the attack. But we cannot confirm that at this point."

Nineteen people are reported dead, including the two gunmen who stormed the famed museum,

Tunisian authorities haven't named the South African victims of yesterday's attack.

Authorities say two more militants might have fled as police didn't initially know how many gunmen they were dealing with.

Some of the tourists were shot down as they emerged from their buses, others fled into the museum.

Five Japanese as well as visitors from Italy, Poland and Spain were among the dead in the noon assault.

The museum is known for its collection of ancient Tunisian artifacts and mosaics and other treasures from classical Rome and Greece.

Bardo's white-walled halls set in the Parliament compound are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Tunisian capital.

Many tourists come for day trips to Tunis from nearby Mediterranean beach resorts.

Shocked but defiant, hundreds of Tunisians later gathered in the streets of downtown Tunis waving the country's red and white crescent flag, and chanting against terrorism.

"I pass this message to Tunisians, that democracy will win and it will survive," President Beji Caid Essebsi said in a television statement. "We will find more ways and equipment for the army to wipe out these barbarous groups for good."