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Aussie cruising with mother among those slain in museum

March 20, 2015 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

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A young Australian, taking a cruise with his family, was among the victims of terrorist gunmen who attacked a tour group at a museum in Tunisia yesterday.

Sydneysider Javier Camelo, 28, a dual-national citizen of Australia and Colombia, was killed during a shore excursion, along with his mother, Miriam Martinez Camelo. His brother and father survived. The family was sailing on the MSC Splendida, which was in port at the time.

At least two gunmen, wearing military uniforms and armed with submachine-guns, attacked during the trip ashore, killing 23 people and wounding over 40 others. The attackers were reported this morning to have been allied to the Islamic State (ISIS) and to have trained in Libya, which borders Tunisia in North Africa.

An MSC spokeswoman confirmed 12 passengers were killed in the attack. The line said all MSC passengers were now accounted for, with 13 injured.

Another ship, the Costa Fascinosa, was also in port. Three passengers on the Costa Fascinosa died, the company said in a statement. Eight others were injured and two were unaccounted for.

When their ship docked in Tunisia, Javier Camelo and his parents were among a group of tourists who visited the National Bardo Museum in the country’s capital, Tunis.

The attackers fired on tourists getting off a tour bus, then pursued survivors into the museum and continued killing as many as they could.

The atrocity once again highlights the vulnerability of tourism to terror attacks. The murderous rampage also killed tourists from Japan, Italy, Colombia, France, Poland and Spain.

Tunisia is highly reliant on tourism and ISIS wants to overthrow the Tunisian government. It sees  attacking unarmed tourists as an easy way of damaging tourism and thus hurting the country’s economy.

Adding insult to injury, many travel insurance policies specifically refuse to cover any loss arising “directly or indirectly from an act or threat of terrorism”.

The deadly strategy of damaging tourism seems to be working already, with both MSC and Costa reported to have swiftly cancelled all calls at the Tunis port of La Goulette until at least the end of the northern summer. Splendida’s Tunis stop has been replaced with Malta, Fantasia’s has been replaced with Palma and Preziosa’s with Cagliari. Costa has cancelled calls at Tunis scheduled in coming months by Costa Fortuna, Costa Favolosa and Costa neoRiviera. It has not yet announced replacement ports.

The attack is reminiscent of Egypt’s Luxor Massacre in 1997, when Islamic terrorists massacred 62 tourists at an archaeological site across the River Nile from Luxor.

British terrorism experts said the Tunis museum attack showed a high degree of planning, being launched at the beginning of the northern summer tourist season and with knowledge that the ships would be in port and the museum would be visited.

After the attack, “all the tourist coaches on tour were immediately recalled to the port and all other tours on the ground were immediately suspended,” MSC said in a statement.

Costa Fascinosa sailed from the Tunis port of La Goulette with its captain reporting that 13 passengers had not returned to the ship. The company said its care team was continuing to work with local authorities, and three extra care team members were expected to arrive in Tunis today to offer help.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told parliament yesterday: “Sadly, I can confirm that an Australian-Colombian dual national from NSW and his Colombian mother were among the victims. Our thoughts are with their family and we are offering consular assistance.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) notes: “There has been an increase in terrorist activity in Tunisia. Terrorist groups have made threats in the past against a range of public targets in Tunisia, including places frequented by tourists.”

Written by : Peter Needham

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