Opening gun fire
The attacker was slain by security guards. Representation image. Pixabay

During an annual Jewish pilgrimage to the Mediterranean island of Djerba, a Tunisian naval guard shot and killed two people, a fellow guard, and himself on Tuesday, according to the Tunisian Interior Ministry.

Despite security guards killing the assailant, 10 people were hurt.

The attack's motivation was the subject of an investigation. It happened at a time when Tunisia, formerly a popular tourist destination and the starting point of the pro-democracy upheavals of the Arab Spring, was experiencing a political and economic crisis.

The largest Jewish population in Tunisia is located on the scenic island of Djerba, which sits off the country's southern coast.

According to the Tunisian Foreign Ministry, the victims were French and Tunisian civilians.

If they were pilgrims attending rites at the 2,500-year-old Ghriba temple, one of Africa's oldest synagogues, was not immediately apparent.

According to the Interior Ministry, the injured included four civilians and six security personnel. It did not say how they were hurt or if the attacker, who was not named officially, shot any of them.

The attacker, a guard employed by the National Guard naval center in the port city of Aghir on Djerba, is alleged to have shot and killed a colleague before taking ammunition and running toward the Ghriba synagogue, according to the ministry.

He started shooting at security personnel stationed at the temple when he arrived, but they returned fire, killing him before he could get to the entrance, according to the ministry.

While officials look into the attack's motivations, the synagogue was locked down and everyone inside and outside was kept safe, according to the ministry, AP News reported.

Ghayda Thabet, a member of the Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities, was at the Ghriba synagogue and appealed for help on Facebook. "They are shooting with live ammunition. Help us," she pleaded in a post.

Online videos depicted terrified guests running as gunshots were heard.

It happened during a yearly pilgrimage to Djerba that draws thousands of tourists from all over the world.

During the yearly Jewish pilgrimage in 2002, a truck bombing at the gate to the same temple resulted in the deaths of about 20 people. That attack, which claimed the lives of Tunisians as well as German and French tourists, was claimed by al-Qaida.

In 2015, 38 people—mostly British tourists—were killed in an incident in Tunisia's Mediterranean resort of Sousse. That attack, as well as those that year on the famed Bardo Museum in Tunisia's capital city and a bus transporting presidential guards were all claimed by the Islamic State group.

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