TUNIS — Tunisia's Bardo museum held a ceremonial reopening on Tuesday a week after gunmen claiming alliance with ISIS killed 20 foreign tourists in an attack aimed at wrecking the country's vital tourism industry.
Several thousand Tunisians and foreign visitors to an international forum also marched in the capital Tunis to show solidarity with the Bardo victims who included Japanese, Spanish, Italians and Colombians. Tunisia is keen to show it can recover from the attack which threatens to damage tourism and mar the country's young democracy four years after a 2011 uprising ended the one-party rule of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.
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Last Wednesday, at least two Tunisian men opened fire on tourists as they got off buses at the Bardo, in one of the worst such incidents in the North African nation for a decade. Security forces later shot dead the two men, who had been recruited at mosques in Tunisia and subsequently trained at a jihadist camp in Libya.
Tunisians carrying national flags and waving "Visit Tunisia" signs gathered behind barriers outside the Bardo, where dignitaries were invited under tight security to a symbolic reopening with an orchestra playing inside the museum hall. The Bardo, which has a famed collection of art and artifacts covering more than 3,000 years of history, is expected to welcome back the public over the weekend.
The attack, however, has underscored how Islamist militants are trying to turn their sights on North Africa as a new front beyond their main battlefield of Iraq and Syria, with ISIS loyalists already gaining a foothold in neighboring Libya.