Two Jewish worshippers were killed in an attack at a Tunisian synagogue on Tuesday. Two members of the security team also were killed in the attack near Africa's oldest synagogue.
More than 5,000 Jewish faithful, mostly from overseas, had gathered at the synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The synagogue, which is a main Jewish pilgrimage center, was the target of extremists earlier. A truck bombing at the synagogue had killed 21 people in 2002.
The victims have been identified as Aviel Hadad, a 30-year-old dual citizen of Tunisia and Israel and his 42-year-old cousin, Benjamin Haddad, a French-Jewish businessman, according to the Times of Israel.
The Tunisian interior ministry said the assailant was a naval officer affiliated with the National Guard. The attacker grabbed a colleague's ammunition after turning his service weapon on the colleague. He then entered the synagogue to carry out the attack. The Tunisian government, however, refrained from calling the attack as a terror strike.
"Investigations are continuing in order to shed light on the motives for this cowardly aggression," the ministry said.
Hundreds of people were taking part in the annual pilgrimage when the attack happened. "They were shot - murdered in cold blood. They were just in the car park and were supposed to go in, in front of the entrance for the security check," a relative of the victims said, according to BBC.
Religious minorities like Jews and Christians have often been targeted in the Muslim-majority country. According to the Times, Tunisian authorities have been providing security to the synagogue. Security was beefed up during Jewish holidays this year as well.