Tunisia – Two Jewish pilgrims and security guards die as cop opens fire in Tunisia synagogue

Four killed in shooting near Djerba Synagogue
Aviel and Benjamin Haddad, two cousins ​​killed in a shooting outside the Ghriba synagogue, in Djerba, Tunisia, May 9, 2023. (Credit: Twitter)

Djerba – At least three people were killed and nine others wounded in an attack near a synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba on Tuesday, according to the Tunisian Interior Ministry.

A security guard for the Marine’s Center for the National Guards killed a colleague “with a weapon and got his ammunition,” the ministry said in a statement on Twitter.

The attacker then “tried to reach near El-Ghriba worshipping place (the synagogue) and started to shoot randomly at security units deployed there where the latter confronted him and shot him dead.”

Aviel Haddad, a 30-year-old dual citizen of Tunisia and Israel and his cousin, Benjamin Haddad, a French-Jewish businessman living in France.

A police officer shot and killed the cousins as they were participating in an annual pilgrimage to a renowned Tunisian synagogue on the island of Djerba, as well as two members of the security services, before he was killed.

Four other visitors to the Ghriba synagogue on Djerba island and five more security officers were wounded in the attack, according to the Tunisian interior ministry.

Tunisia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday that a 30-year-old Tunisian and a 42-year-old French national were among those killed.

The attack came amid an annual pilgrimage to the island of Djerba that draws hundreds of Jews from Europe and Israel, Reuters reported.

La Ghriba is Africa’s oldest synagogue, a revered and iconic location at the heart of the island, according to Reuters. It was built on the site of a Jewish temple that is believed to date back almost 1,900 years.

Authorities did not identify a motive for the attack but Islamist militants have previously targeted the pilgrimage in Djerba and have staged other attacks in the country, according to Reuters.

One of the most well-known attacks is the 2002 truck bombing by al Qaeda militants, which killed 21 Western tourists – prompting high security at the synagogue in the following years.

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