AT LEAST six people are dead after a police officer shot two of his colleagues before opening fire on worshippers outside an ancient synagogue.
The National Guard member went on a deadly rampage near the Ghriba synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba on Tuesday.
He reportedly blasted two of his comrades with his service weapon at a naval installation before swiping ammunition for his next targets.
The attacker then travelled to Africa's oldest synagogue, Ghriba, with the deadly artillery to continue slaughtering more victims.
The area was packed with tourists and worshippers who had flocked to the island for an annual pilgrimage, which attracts Jewish visitors from Europe and Israel.
The gunman, who has not been identified, began shooting wildly at police and crowds of visitors in the area on Tuesday.
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He arrived on a quad bike while donning body armour, according to Tunisia's former tourism minister Rene Trabelsi, who organised the pilgrimage.
Worshippers described how people tried to hide in different rooms of the synagogue as they heard gunshots ring out.
Trabelsi, who was inside the synagogue with his family when the shooting began, said: "We heard the shots and knew it was related to an attack."
Harrowing footage circulating online showed panic-stricken visitors running for their lives as gunshots rang out.
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"People were happy and dancing until we heard a lot of gunfire," said Peres Trabelsi, head of Djerba's Jewish community.
"Everyone ran away… some hid in my office and others in the other rooms. There was lots of fear."
Two Jewish cousins, one French and the other Israeli-Tunisian, attempted to hide behind a bus outside the synagogue before being shot dead.
The two victims, named by Israeli media as Benjamin Haddad, 42, and Aviel Haddad, 30, died at the scene alongside one police officer after suffering fatal gunshot wounds.
Their relative Mordechai Madar told Israeli radio station 103FM they cousins were just seconds from heading inside the synagogue.
He sobbed: "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 second cop passed away in hospital on Wednesday, while another four were injured, with one remaining in a critical condition.
Four worshippers were also wounded in the attack that has rocked Tunisia.
The attacker was shot dead by security guards who were stationed at the synagogue. His motivation for the shooting rampage remains unclear.
The country's interior ministry said that investigations were continuing to establish the motive for the "cowardly" attack.
France's foreign ministry condemned the "heinous act in the strongest terms", while expressing its "concern and deep sadness."
More than 5,000 Jews participated in the 2022 pilgrimage to Ghriba, according to AFP.
The synagogue was previously targeted in 2002 in a bomb attack, claimed by al-Qaeda Islamist militants, that killed over 20 people.
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Officials significantly beefed up security surrounding the pilgrimage following the deadly incident.
Tunisia is a majority-Muslim country, but Djerba is home to hundreds of Jews.
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