WARNING: Graphic imagery
At least 27 people are dead on a beach in Tunisia after gunmen attacked two hotels in the resort town of Sousse, the country’s interior minister said Friday.
The attack took place in Kantaoui, a tourist area on the northern end of Sousse.
The city is a popular destination for tourists from across Europe. British tourist Gary Pine from Bristol tweeted that there was mass panic at the El Mouradi Palm Marina resort in the port city.
“There was, I’d estimate, 30 or 40 shots at least that were fired,” Pine told Channel 4 News. “As I, stupidly in hindsight, I went back down the beach to pick up my bags and you could hear bullets whizzing through the air… I was happy to get off that beach, as you’d imagine.”
Other tourists told Sky News they had barricaded themselves into their hotel rooms.
The British Foreign Office told Mashable they were aware of reports and they are “urgently” looking into it. The source added that the country is ready to offer consular assistance when needed.
At this point, it’s unclear which hotels were targeted, however the RIU Hotel Imperial Marhaba, which is located in Kantaoui, was mentioned in local news reports. The distinctive hotel can be seen in the background of other photos from the scene.
It is unclear how many attackers were involved, but several photos from local news organizations and those at the scene show a man in black shorts and a t-shirt lying dead in the street next to a rifle.
Thomas Cook, which operates package tours in the area, told Mashable in an email that it is aware of the attack, but doesn’t yet know which hotels were affected due to “conflicting news reports.” The company said its teams are on the ground, offering support and working with local authorities.
British tourist Johnny Yeoman described barricading himself into his hotel room as the shooting took place on a nearby beach. He says one gunman may have been killed by police in the hotel he was staying in.
British Prime Minister David Cameron speaking in Brussels offered “solidarity in fighting this evil of terrorism.”
The attack comes in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan in the predominantly Muslim nation. Tunisia has been on high alert for attacks after gunman attack the Bardo Museum in Tunis, killing foreign tourists.
Tourism is a major part of the Tunisian economy, and many worried that the latest attack will have wide reaching affects.