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 Unknown person attacked tourists in Tunisisan hotel, at least 27 killed. PHOTO

Unknown person opened fire at Imperial Marhaba hotel in Sousse town in Tunisia.

At least 27 people have been killed in an attack on a hotel in the Tunisian beach resort of Sousse, according to an interior ministry official quoted by Reuters. This is reported by Censor.NET citing The Guardian.

The attack was on the Imperial Marhaba hotel, a source and local radio said.

A security source at the scene said the body of one gunman armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle lay where police had shot him dead. It was unclear whether there were other assailants.

Elizabeth O'Brien, an Irish woman on holiday with her two sons in the resort, described how she grabbed her children and ran for their lives when they heard gunfire erupting from one of the hotels.

"We were on the beach, my sons were in the sea and I just got out of the sea. It was about 12 o'clock and I just looked up about 500 metres from me and I saw a [hot air] balloon collapse down, then rapid firing, then I saw two of the people who were going to go up in the balloon start to run towards me - because I thought it was fireworks," she told RTE Radio.

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Gary Pine, a British tourist close to the scene of the attack, told Sky News he was on the beach and heard what "we thought was firecrackers going off" 100 yards away, followed by an explosion from the next hotel complex along.

"There was a mass exodus off the beach," Pine said, adding that his son told him that he had seen someone get shot on the beach. Pine said guests at his hotel were first told to lock themselves in their rooms, and later to gather in the lobby.

The British foreign office said it was urgently investigating the situation

Sousse, 150kms (93 miles) from Tunis, is one of Tunisia's most popular beach resorts, drawing visitors from Europe and neighbouring north African countries. There have been no details on the nationalities of those killed but during the holy month of Ramadan, those on the beach tend to be tourists.

Tunisia has been on high alert since March when Islamist militant gunmen attacked the Bardo museum in Tunis, killing a group of foreign tourists in one of the worst attacks in a decade in the north African country.

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said there were no Ukrainian citizens among those killed in the shooting.

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