LONDON — Gunmen killed at least 27 people at a beachfront Tunisian hotel on Friday, the same day terrorists lashed out brutally in France and bombed a mosque in Kuwait.
Tunisia’s interior minister reported the casualties from the attack the Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba in Sousse, according to the state-run TAP news agency. At least one gunman has also reportedly been killed.
A woman from Wales told CNN’s Robyn Kriel that she saw bloodied bodies lying in the sand and people from neighboring hotels jumping over to fences to get to her hotel. She said she is staying about a mile from the main attack scene, but visitors there still took precautions by putting mattresses up against the door to slow any gunmen who might try to barge in.
The hotel guest said she heard at least 30 seconds of sustained gunfire, though things have become relatively quiet by early afternoon.
On its website, Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba is described as an all-inclusive hotel with views of Port El Kantaoui. It contains indoor and outdoor pools, including one for children, as well as buffet-style and theme restaurants.
Attacks in France, Kuwait
The bloodshed comes the same day as at least two deadly terrorist attack in other countries.
One person was beheaded and two injured at a gas factory near Lyon in southeastern France, according to French President Francois Hollande. And ISIS has claimed responsibility for an apparent bomb blast at the Shiite-affiliated Al-Sadiq mosque in Kuwait’s capital during Friday prayers, leading to a number of death and injuries.
Sajjan Gohel, the international security director for the Asia-Pacific Foundation think tank, said the confluence of events add up to “an unprecedented day for terrorism.” He noted that, while questions remain about who was responsible and the extent to which the attacks were coordinated, in each case you have individuals “buying into the … doctrine that groups like ISIS articulate.”
While what happened Friday is rare, Gohel told CNN that people worldwide should brace themselves for more such violence to come.
“Terrorism is something that, unfortunately, we’re going to have to accept as part of our daily lives,” said Gohel, who is also an Islamist ideology expert at the London School of Economics. “Terrorism is now diffuse: It’s not autonomous, it’s not necessarily being coordinated by one particular group, (and) it can often be very spontaneous.
“… Gone are the days of the al Qaeda large-scale plots where the cell was big, the authorities could disrupt it, arrest (people) and prosecute. Now are are seeing an increase in the volume of terrorism because the plots sometimes actually are on a smaller scale (which makes them) harder to protect, harder to monitor.”
ISIS had vowed museum attack ‘just the start’
Tunisia, birthplace of the Arab Spring, may be one of the best examples of an otherwise peaceful country that’s been rattled by terrorism in recent years, violence that has shaken not only its citizens but its economy by targeting tourists drawn to the North African nation’s culture and Mediterranean Sea beaches.
In March, at least 23 people died when gunmen stormed the landmark Bardo Museum in Tunis. Until Friday, that attack had been the deadliest on tourists in the Arab world since the 1997 massacre in Luxor, Egypt.
In a subsequent audio statement, ISIS identified two men — Abu Zakariya al-Tunisi and Abu Anas al-Tunisi — who it said used “automatic weapons and hand grenades” to kill and injure what it called “crusaders and apostates.”
That message also warned that the Bardo Museum attack was “just the start.”
CNN’s Yousuf Basil contributed to this report.