Footage of Tunisia terror attack shows gunmen bumping into visitor at entrance - before letting him go

Recording shows attackers point their guns at the young man, then allow him to walk off

Footage of the Tunisian terrorist attack that killed 20 foreign tourists at a museum shows a visitor came face-to-face with the gunmen - before being allowed to walk off.

The Tunisian Government released the recording of two gunmen as they carried out the attack on the Bardo museum, in the capital Tunis, on Wednesday.

The young man, wearing a backpack, is seen walking down stairs at the entrance, before encountering the attackers. The gunmen - at least one of whom was wearing an explosive suicide belts - point their guns at him before allowing him to walk away and then walking up the stairs.

Tunisian authorities released the footage on Saturday after announcing the arrest of more than 20 suspects as part of a crackdown on militants following the attack, in which the two gunmen died.

Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi said in a live TV interview that a third attacker is still on the run.

Mr Caid Essebsi said the attack involved "three aggressors" and the third man escaped. He was speaking live with French network iTele from inside the museum, its elaborate tilework visible behind him.

The two attackers who died, named as Yassine Laabidi and Hatem Khachnaoui, were killed in a gunfight with security forces inside the building.

Hundreds of people gathered for a mass in the cathedral in Tunis on Saturday, lighting candles to remember the victims, who also included three Tunisians, in a ceremony attended by government ministers.

Outside, there was a heavy police presence along the central Habib Bourguiba boulevard. But Tunis was calm, with a music festival going ahead in the city centre.

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Wednesday's assault, the deadliest involving foreigners in Tunisia since a 2002 suicide bombing on the island of Djerba, came at a fragile moment for a country just emerging to full democracy after a popular uprising four years ago.

The government said the two gunmen had trained in jihadi camps in Libya before the attack at the Bardo museum inside the heavily secured Tunisian parliament compound. Japanese, French, Polish, Italian and Colombian visitors - as well as one Briton, Sally Adey, 57 -  were among the victims.

Authorities have arrested more than 20 suspected militants, including 10 believed to be directly involved in the Bardo attack, Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui said.

"There is a large-scale campaign against the extremists," he said. The ministry released a photograph of another suspect and asked Tunisians to help with information.

The government plans to deploy the army to major cities to improve security following the shootings.

Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for the attack, but social media accounts tied to an al Qaeda-affiliated group in Tunisia have also published purported details of the operation.

Whoever was responsible, the Bardo attack illustrates how Islamist militants are turning their attention to North Africa. A particular focus is neighbouring Libya, where two rival governments are battling for control, allowing Islamic State to gain a foothold.

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Gunmen who attacked the Bardo Museum in Tunis came face-to-face with a visitor - before allowing him to walk off

 

The United States is increasingly worried about the growing presence of Islamic State militants in Libya.

In an interview with Paris Match magazine, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said there were as many as 10,000 young Tunisian jihadists in all.

"Among the often desperate young unemployed, the call to jihadism has worked," he said.

"Four thousand Tunisians have joined jihad, in Syria, Libya and elsewhere, and some 500 have already come back here, where they pose a threat. That is not to mention the five or six thousand others we have succeeded in preventing from leaving."

U.S. officials said that because of its strategic position, Libya has become a springboard for would-be fighters from across North Africa wanting to link up with Islamic State.

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The militant group controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria, and claimed responsibility for suicide bombings at two mosques that killed at least 137 people in the capital of Yemen on Friday.

Four years after a popular revolt toppled autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has completed its transition to democracy with free elections, a new constitution and compromise politics between secular and Islamist parties.

But the attack threatens to hit the economy of a country that is heavily reliant on drawing foreign visitors to its beach resorts and desert treks. Authorities have tightened security at hotels and tourist spots.

Additional reporting by Associated Press.

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