Italian police have arrested a Moroccan man suspected of taking part in an attack on the Bardo National Museum in Tunis in March in which 21 tourists were killed.
Abdel Majid Touil, 22, was arrested on an international warrant by Italy’s anti-terror police in the northern town of Gaggiano, officers told a press conference. Touil, who is wanted for premeditated murder, kidnapping and terrorism, was detained on Monday evening.
He was living with his mother, a carer, and two older brothers in the town near Milan. The Bardo attack on 18 March killed 22 people, including a Tunisian policeman.
Two Tunisian assailants were shot dead at the scene after taking hostages inside the museum. Advertisement Tunisia’s president, Beji Caid Essebsi, said a few days after the attack that a third gunman was on the run.
Police said Touil had been in Italy before the attack. They said he entered the country illegally by boat in February with 90 other migrants, before being issued with an order to leave. The officers did not specify whether he had been expelled or, if he had, where he had gone to.
They said investigators had been able to trace Touil because his mother had reported his passport missing.
The news that the suspect had allegedly sneaked into Italy by boat sparked an immediate outcry among rightwing politicians, with the head of the anti-immigration Northern League party, Matteo Salvini, calling for the Schengen agreement allowing free movement between most continental European states to be suspended. “Libyan intelligence says boats are arriving with Islamic State terrorists. Today in my Milan, a north African was arrested for involvement in the Tunisian massacre. Close the borders before it’s too late,” Salvini told Italian media.
Hard-right politician Daniela Santanchè from Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Go Italy) party also criticised the government. It is “unbelievable that this government, instead of defending us from cut-throats, has transformed Italy into a useful platform for terrorists”, Santanchè said.