2015-03-19 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis sent a telegram offering prayers for the victims of Wednesday’s terror attack in Tunis, in which at least 23 people were killed and more than 40 others wounded, many among them foreign tourists. In the telegram, signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, and addressed to the Archbishop of Tunis, Ilario Antoniazzi, the Holy Father decries the attack as, “[An act] against peace and the sacredness of human life.” He goes on to assure the families of the victims, all those affected by the incident, and the whole Tunisian people, of his continued prayers.
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The Pope’s condemnation and condolences came after remarks from Cardinal Parolin, who told Vatican Radio, “[The attack was] something most cruel and inhuman, truly unthinkable: to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.” Cardinal Parolin went on to say, We must hope that, in the name of God, no more violence is committed.”
Tunisia has suffered violence at the hands of Islamic militants in the past, and a disproportionately large number of Tunisians have joined the so-called “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq. Tunisian security forces are currently battling Islamic militants belonging to several groups, including Ansar al Sharia, which the US lists as a terrorist group, and an al Qaeda affiliate with fighters operating along the Algerian border.
Speaking on national television in the wake of the attack, Tunisia’s President, Beji Caid Essebsi, said his country would not be intimidated. “These monstrous minorities do not frighten us,” he said.
Tour operators have already begun to react to the incident, with Italian cruise company Costa announcing it will be suspending calls to Tunisian ports. Tourism accounts for nearly 10% of the Tunisian economy, which is still struggling to steady itself along with the whole of Tunisian society, in the wake of a democratic reform movement that led to the ouster of the country’s long-time ruler at the start of what came to be known as the Arab Spring.