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TERRORIST ATTACK IN TUNIS

“The terrorists were two meters away from me!”

Josep Lluís Cusidó, a Catalan mayor, tells EL PAÍS what he saw in Wednesday’s attack

Josep Lluís Cusidó Ampliar foto
Josep Lluís Cusidó

“I thought they were rockets. I looked out the door and the terrorists were there, three or four, I’m not sure. And so I ran out, went up the stairs of the Bardo Museum, saw a door, and I entered. There was a balcony and I took cover there with more tourists. The terrorist was two meters from me!”

The Socialist Party mayor of Vallmoll, Tarragona, Josep Lluís Cusidó, is one of the survivors of the attack that took place on Wednesday in Tunis. With the sense of shock still present, Cusidó, 64, tells his story by telephone aboard the boat that will take him back to Barcelona. He and his wife had arrived in the Tunisian capital on a cruise ship to celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary. Both of them were in the museum when the attack took place. “It all happened so quickly,” explains the mayor of the town of 1,670 inhabitants. “The terrorists didn’t stop shooting. I saw it with my own eyes.”

The worst part, he explains, was when he lost sight of his wife. “She was grabbed by a Tunisian, who took her down into the basement of the museum. She told me there were children next to her who wouldn’t stop crying. I didn’t hear anything about her until we were reunited on the boat.” Three long hours passed without any news about his wife, with each of them on a different floor of the museum, which was being held by the terrorists.

It all happened so quickly. The terrorists didn’t stop shooting. I saw it with my own eyes”

Cusidó said that he would try to focus on the memory of the dozens of Tunisians who applauded the buses in which the liberated hostages were taken to the city port. Once back on the boat, he finally found his wife. “We hugged each other, the whole boat applauded. Today, without a doubt, we have been born again.”

The story told by Josep Lluís Cusidó coincides with that of other witnesses. A woman who was part of a group of 40 French tourists gave a live account of the museum attack via phone to the Itele TV channel. “We can hear shots and we have seen people on the ground. We can hear a lot of shouting. We are taking cover with five other people in a small room on the third floor of the museum. There is a balcony with a window, but we haven’t dared to look at what is going on out there. The police are here. They are still firing…,” the woman told the TV station, before the call was cut off while she shouted, “My God, my God, they’re firing!”

While the identity of the attackers is still unknown, some witnesses have provided details. Wafel Buzi, a guide who was accompanying a group of Spanish-speaking tourists in the museum, told reporters that he had seen a “young man of 25, dressed normally, and without a beard” carrying a Kalashnikov. “He had it in his hands, I thought that he was playing, but later he opened fire.”

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