Two Jewish pilgrims and three Tunisian police guards were killed on Tuesday night in a shooting attack at the El Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba during an annual Lag Ba’Omer celebration that drew hundreds of visitors, The Times of Israel reported.
Four more people were wounded in the incident.
The dead worshippers were identified as cousins Aviel Haddad, a 30-year-old dual Israeli-Tunisian citizen, and Benjamin Haddad, a 42-year-old French national.
The Tunisian Interior Ministry said the shooter was an officer affiliated with the National Guard naval center in the town of Aghir on Djerba.
He was said to have first used service weapon to open fire on a colleague, before collecting more bullets and going to the synagogue. Once there, he opened fire on passersby, as well as security personnel stationed outside, who returned fire and killed him.
The synagogue was locked down during the incident and no one inside at the time was harmed.
Tunisia: Shots fired at El Ghriba synagogue in Djerba, where hundreds of Israelis and Jews were at the time pic.twitter.com/4DlYvkQfpf
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) May 9, 2023
“Investigations are continuing in order to shed light on the motives for this cowardly aggression,” the Interior Ministry stated.
The El Ghriba synagogue was previously targeted in an April 2002 suicide truck bombing perpetrated by Al-Qaeda. A total of 19 people — including 14 German tourists — perished in that attack.