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tv   News  Al Jazeera  March 18, 2015 10:00am-10:31am EDT

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and other important historical sites in syria and iraq. it's too early to say whether that was the reason bardo was attacked. but look at its location. they could have even attacked parliament which was just five minutes away from this location. but it does seem they went for a visitors site. >> it is now 1400 gmt, we continue with our special breaking news coverage of the hostage situation in the tunisian capitol this wednesday. gunmen have stormed the bardo national museum in tunis. eight people have been killed even of them are said to be foreigners, one is a tunisian a number of police officers have also been injured. now this is happening just a few minutes away from tunisia's parliament building. it's just five minutes away from
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the parliament building and that's the building you can see with the red roof. the building used to be a palace and it is one of tunisia's most famous tourist spots. let's just bring you up to date if you are just joining us of the key developments what we know at this stage about this hostage situation. gunmen attacked the bardo museum over two hours ago in tunis. the interior ministry saying eight people have been killed seven tourists. more hostages have been outside. we're not clear on what that number is. and security forces have surrounded the building at the museum and four policemen have been injured. now these are the latest pictures that came to us from tunisian television of some of the tourists escaping the grounds of the museum. they managed to make it out. about 20 of them we saw come
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out,est sorted by the security forces. we're still unclear how many of them are still inside. the intier for ministry spokesman said there were two gunmen dressed in military garb who went into the museum and opened fire. let's listen to what he said to us just a while ago. >> translator: four people have been rushed to the hospital in addition to the two evacuated a while ago. four buses carrying tourists were inside. but we do not have an exact number, we think it is about a hundred. the operation is still underway. anti-terrorism forces have been deployed within the museum. we have information that some tourists are still being held captive. >> so the hostage situation is underway in the bardo museum. joining us is the vice president of the funan group.
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your initial reaction to what we're seeing in tunis. we don't know how this is going to end. still unclear about who the hostage takers are, but your initial reaction. are you surprised that such an attack would happen? >> in the region no. and i think this could -- could have something to do with the recent announcement acknowledging that a senior isil commander fighting in libya and a tunisian was killed in fighting recently in sirte. >> who is he? >> he is again a senior isil commander, recently in syria, and recently loved on to the fighting in libya. wanted as a fugitive for two assassinations in 2012 here in tunisia. >> okay. obviously it's still early days we don't know if there is a
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connection, but the museum was attacked, because as we have been saying if the gunman wanted to attack tunisians themselves they would have attacked the parliament and not the museum. >> that -- that could be part of it. but also keep in mind this is a museum, not a government facility. that is an easy target for any organization to go after. security is going to be minimal. and an environment for hostages. this could be similar to what we saw in nairobi a year ago, at westgate. >> the westgate attack in nairobi. how would the security forces deal with a situation like this? is there some sort of
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negotiation going on between them and these two gunmen? >> that is something that can certainly happen. the reports are [ inaudible ] even so there's a small handful. so the access in and out of the museum is difficult. so people could be coming from all sorts of exits. what the security forces are doing is surrounding the area to prevent anybody from getting in. and a control to come out. once they have control of that they will attempt to make contact with whoever is in there, holding these hostages to see who they are, and what they want. >> the tunisian forces prepared? with they well trained to do with such a situation? >> well, are they prepared yeah -- well let's back up nobody is ever prepared for something like that. this catches you off guard.
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now are they prepared? yes, they can surround the facility certainly. make contact. now remember the tunisian forces get a lot of training from the outside as well. if it comes down to a hostage rescue attempt, that's where it gets dicey, there are a few dozen countries around the world, that can actually hostage rescue operations -- >> so will they be getting help from some of these countries -- >> agains if it works out diplomatically. perhaps france -- >> we have already heard from the french prime minister saying they were standing by and were ready to help. i want to come back to who might be behind this attack. some of the guests mentioned isil of course. some mentioned al-qaeda. there are an estimated -- about
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3,000 who have traveled to syria and iraq most of them to join islamic state of iraq and the levant. >> yes, tunisia has more foreign fighters in iraq and syrian than any other country, by far. as you said about 3,000. it could be returning fighters. or it could be isil having an interest. just like recently they have had an interest in other regions. they are spreading their -- their -- their territory or their brand into other countries. >> okay. martin thank you very much indeed. for the moment martin joining us here in the studio to talk about this unfolding situation in tunis where eight people -- at least eight people have been killed in this hostage
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crisis the interior ministry saying seven of those eight killed after an attack on the bardo museum which is a popular tourist destination in tunisia. there are still many inside we believe. let's hear from a website now. this member of parliament was speaking from the parliament chambers, which is located not far from the museum and said that they were under lockdown. let's take a listen. >> translator: we have been surrounded by security forces. all of the staff and journalist are [ inaudible ]. two gentlemen started firing at tourists in the museum which is close to the parliament building. some of the tourists have been killed. others wounded. one of the gunmen has come on the parliament's roof top and it
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is feared he may step into the chamber at anytime. security has advised us to stay away from windows. all of the members of parliament are shocked that the building didn't have sufficient security. >> okay. that was a member of parliament speaking before the parliament building was evacuated. and apparently they were held -- well they were told to stay inside the building for sometime. but we understand that they have now been able to leave the building. we also spoke to a tunisian blogger and political analyst, and he said that tunisians had received multiple threats, and that he believes that isil may in fact be responsible for this attack? >> we had a lot of threats that extremist groups were going to
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attack civilians, and were planning on attacking tourist facilities, but this didn't really happen over the last four years, and we all know in 2011 security was not at his climate in tunisia. but people got used to the idea that the situation was more or less under control, and frankly no one expected something so -- i would say so big. because this is the most important terrorist attack that has happened in tunisia's modern history. we had an attack in the military in an military area but not on civilian targets. not something this big, and certainly not something involving so many foreigners. i think like most other
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tunisians, isis is a growing group. we have seen their activities growing over the last few years. so they have been the main -- the main -- the main one they have been praising this action, and they have been warning that something big would happen in tunisia soon. the local stamp of isis have been attacked the idea of tunisia as a nation state, et cetera so i think this looks very much like an isis attack.
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>> our correspondent is also here with us in the studio as well as martin who is usually based in tunisia. we're lucky enough to our correspondent here with us today. we have been talking about how this is unprecedented for tunisia. there has never been such an attack in the capitol. there have been operations in other regions, but nothing yet in tunis. is there a link between what was happening in these other regions, and -- and what we're seeing here today. >> what we're seeing in tuesday in the past few years is attacks carried out on military targets, on military convoys, also on the police as well. now tunisia in a way has been used as a training ground and also a weapons depot for some of
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these armed groups but we have never seen any kind of major attack in tunisia. the security in and around tunisia is very very high. it is high in other parts of the country as well. so it's very difficult for me to understand how these attackers were able to get their weaponry even close to parliament. >> right. >> because there is a lot of security around parliament. we have mentioned that tourist spots like this. like bardo and other locations around tunisia aren't usually guarded. there is no security presence. because up until now the tunisia authorities have had no indication that they would become a target. >> right. interesting that you mentioned how they could have gotten inside this building. the interior ministry spokesman
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had said they were addressed in military garb. >> yes, what kind of military outfit are we talking about? there are different military units within tunisia. there's the national guard. the national army. >> uh-huh. >> there are specialist security forces forces. that's the presidential guard. for me it's highly unusual for people in the security forces or wearing military outfits to not be checked at least before they enter a location. bardo is heavily guarded around the parliamentary site. but this particular entrance into the museum is not guarded
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like oversights. >> martin what do you think of that? the interior ministry saying they were wearing what looked like military uniforms. >> and is it something that resembles what is worn in tunisia. that is a question. but this is part of the preplanning cycle for any terrorist attack. the more planning they have the more detailed it is going to be. but they are going to look first of all for a target. and if they want to get out, how are they going to get out. they are going to try to get in the least secure way that they can. >> we're now dealing with a hostage situation here. obviously we don't know very much. we don't even know if the
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tunisian forces know how many people are inside. how difficult is it going to be to free these people not knowing a lot of the thing thasz-- things that are happening. >> yes, as these hostages come out, they will be interviewed. and security forces are going to determine quickly, are these hostages or attackers that are trying to get out, similar to what we saw at westgate. talk to them. what is it that they saw. how many fighters? has there been anybody killed? are they in one section of the museum or moving throughout it. they will core -- cordon off the
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area. and security forces have a way of collecting intelligence. they could be looking at video cameras, if they have access. but they are going to want to get as much information they can. >> right. stay with us we're going to take a short break and come back to the continuing situation in tunis. i guess we're not going to take that break, just yet, because we're now getting reports that this situation may be over. government officials -- officials -- tunisiann government officials say that
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two militants have been killed and one police officer also killed during what they are calling a security operation at the bardo museum. so it looks like that this might be doing -- or has come to an end. what more are you hearing from your sources? >> well, i think we're going to have to wait really to confirm that. we have seen in previous attacks where the authorities have said it's all over, for example, west westgate in nairobi and it went on for another 48 hours. >> right. >> so we have to wait and see. >> exactly. >> right, martin. but again, this is the interior ministry is saying that the hostage situation is over. this is the same interior ministry that over two hours ago confirmed the number dead
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eight. they are now coming out with this information. >> it depends. the reports were that there were two shooters but they are going to want to do a clearing of that building. there could be more. and also are there inprovised explosive devices that could be left there. if it is in fact over that was a very fast-delivered assault to rescue these hostages. >> interesting from the pictures we have seen and the sydney cafe siege comes to mind here. we saw the security forces go in and engage with the man inside. but in the pictures that we're getting in -- i don't know if we'll get other pictures of this building in other places we haven't seen any activity if you will from the security
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forces. >> no, and although they are going to want to gain access to the area this is a very fast rescue. they will look at this as a vulnerability point. and if this was a well-trained team they know what they are doing. >> the difference between this siege and the one mentioned here, this is a come pound with many entrances and exits. if it is true i think there will be relief right now, amongst many people in tunisia has this has been brought to an end very very quickly. >> uh-huh. we are waiting to hear from the interior ministry spokesman in just a few minutes.
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but what we're hearing right now is that the hostage situation at the bardo museum in tunis is now over and that the two hostage takers have been killed and also a policeman has been killed in this operation. to free the hostages who were inside the museum. the -- right now what we know as far as the numbers -- the casualties is that eight people have been killed. seven of them foreigners and one tunisian. and again, now the tunisia interior ministry saying the situation is over. if it is confirmed and we do know that it is over in just a few minutes, what would this suggest about the people who very involved in this attack martin, and the fact that they were subdued to quickly by the
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security forces? >> well two things. once they identify who these attackers are, they should be able to determine who they are affiliated with whether it's isil or another group. and that will say a lot. but looking at it from the sense of how -- also how did they get in? what vulnerability did they pick? and of course, the officials are going to want to make sure that that doesn't happen again, and look at other places where there may be similar attacks. also identifying is there just one of several attacks that are being planned. so find out who were the associates for the two attackers that were being killed? are they just part of a cell? >> what we have seen in previous instances in tunisia is when the police or security forces find suspected militants or whatever you want to call them. they tend to move in very quickly and then find other
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locations where they are also storing weapons and foil other potential attacks. they have been done pretty good. they arrested 32 people. who they say were a threat to military and political targets. there are check points everywhere. there are police and security forces at key installations, but again, tourist locations like this, big hotels on the coast, are not protected in the same way as you would perhaps see in -- in countries like egypt or even countries like -- in east africa -- >> and kenya. >> and kenya. there is no security for example when you go into hotels they don't check your bags or, you know what you have on your person. so things are going to change
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now in tunisia. >> indeed. >> there is going to be a big, big security operation. >> okay. the -- the spokesman for the interior ministry also saying that all tourists are safe and that they have been evacuated from the bardo museum. again, it appears from the initial information we're getting that the hostage situation is over. the tunisian interior ministry saying the two suspected gunmen have been killed in the operation, but that all tourists are safe and have been evacuated from the museum. let's now speak to a spokesperson from tunis. what is your reaction we understand of course the interior ministry saying this hostage situation is now over. what is your reaction to the
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represents we have seen in tunisia today? >> we are absolutely horrified and devastated by the terrible attacks today on tunisia and its people and businesses. and we extend our deepest sympathy to all of those involved. >> who in your opinion -- and i'm sorry to ask you this because it's pure speculation at this stage, because we don't know who is behind this attack. who do you think could be behind this? are they people from within tunisia or from outside. >> today's attack is absolutely terrible and it's the [ inaudible ] that tourists in the capitol have been -- have come under attack and so close also to the parliament today. best terrorist has been attacking tunisia over the last
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few years and since the revolution as well. and they have been threatening tunisia tunisia. [ technical difficulties ] and ensuring that tunisia's transition continues and progresses. >> okay. as you know of course there has been criticism of your party which was in power before this new government came into power after the revolution that they didn't do enough to stop training the rise of -- you know, of these groups of so-called terrorist groups. what do you respond to those critics? >> all around the world when terrorist attacks take place, all parties condemn them and show unity in the face of this danger that threatens all of us and it is not the time to -- to
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be divided or to -- throw blame at it. we recognize the danger of terrorism, and there are shortcomings of course and each government has been doing better at combatting this threat that threatens us and our neighbors and the rest of the region and the world as a whole. >> so do you stand behind the government today in the fight against these groups? >> absolutely. we strongly condemn this attack and stand united with the government and we believe that it is only with national unity that we can defeat terrorism. >> thank you very for taking the time to speak to us there from tunis. joining us and the hostage
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situation it is said to now be over. and a number of people have been killed. let's take you through the key developments of the last three hours or so. it has been going on for some time now. about two and a half hours ago, gunmen launched an attack on the bardo museum in the tunisian capitol. the government says the gunmen have been killed and the situation is now over. at least eight people were killed seven believed to be tourists. the security forces have been surrounding the building and four policeman have also been injured. a spokes person for the interior ministry says all the tourists are safe and well. here in the studio are us is
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ours correspondent who has covered tunisia extensively. react to the comments that she mentioned national opportunity. what is the most important thing right now? obviously there are going to be a lot of questions to find out what happened and also probably questions about the government's handling of this situation. >> very interesting that she said that and that she talked about national unity, but i think that groups that believe in political islam. and they will be worried now about a security clampdown in tunisia.
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>> will be worried about a potential backlash against people seen to have connections with some of these groups. >> martin, your thoughts on that. are we going to see a backlash now against islamists in tunisia against people from the party as was the case during the reign? >> i think we will. the question is how much