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Saturday, 13 April, 2002, 22:27 GMT 23:27 UK
Tunisia blast was attack, says Germany
Inside La Ghriba synagogue
The blast blackened the white walls of the synagogue
Germany has said it believes a lorry explosion at a synagogue in Tunisia that killed 13 people, including eight Germans, was a deliberate attack and not an accident as first reports suggested.


Taking into account the latest developments in the inquiry it was probably an attack

Otto Schily
Interior Minister Otto Schily said the latest information obtained by the German and Tunisian governments indicated that the blast on the resort island of Djerba had been planned.

He said the explosion appeared to be a terrorist attack which was aimed at the synagogue not at the coach carrying a party of German tourists which took much of the force of the explosion.

Tunisian authorities had earlier said the blast was an accident, but Mr Schily insisted there was no division between the two governments.

German federal police officials have been sent to Tunisia to assist in the investigation of Thursday's explosion at La Ghriba Jewish shrine.

A young girl is taken to hospital after the blast
Most of the victims were tourists
Israel has already said it suspects the gas tanker blast was a terrorist attack linked to the crisis in the Middle East.

Mr Schily said: "The latest information and indications we have been getting from both inside the country and outside have pointed increasingly towards an attack."

As well as the eight Germans, the blast killed a Frenchman, a Tunisian tour guide and three other Tunisians.

Another 30 people, mostly Germans, were seriously hurt in the explosion.

On Saturday, Jewish men and teenagers held a solemn sabbath service amid the blackened interior of their historic synagogue.

The Jews of Djerba

Ghriba, whose foundations are said to date from 586 BC, is one of Africa's oldest synagogues and is still functioning.
Work of wonder
La Ghriba means "the one who works wonders"
There are more than 1,000 Jews on Djerba
Ancestors believed to have arrived more than 2,000 years ago
Said to have been founded after the Jewish Exodus of 556 BC
Place of pilgrimage for Sephardic Jews, second only to Jerusalem's Western Wall
Houses unique collection of Torahs

It attracts several thousand visitors for an annual spring festival.

The island of Djerba, off Tunisia's southeast coast, is a popular holiday destination.

It is also home to around 1,000 of Tunisia's 3,000 Jews.

Many Jews left mainland Tunisia for Israel following the creation of the Jewish state in 1948, and more when the synagogue in the capital Tunis was burned down during the 1967 Middle East conflict.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Donna Larsen
"It is feared the death toll could rise further"
See also:

13 Apr 02 | Middle East
Tunisia blast claims more lives
12 Apr 02 | Middle East
Mystery surrounds synagogue blast
11 Apr 02 | Middle East
Blast at Tunisian synagogue kills five
26 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Tunisia
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