Attack on Tunisian coastal resort leaves at least 38 dead

WATCH ABOVE: Mike Armstrong reports that a popular beach resort in Tunisia turned into a scene of panic as a gunman opened fire on tourists, killing 38.

At least 38 people are dead and 36 others injured after a gunman opened fire on a beach Friday near two hotels in the coastal resort city of Sousse, Tunisia.

Citing Ministry of Health, state television said 38 people, mostly tourists, were killed and 36 others were injured during the attack on the hotels.

Tunisia’s Interior Ministry Spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui said the death toll could rise.

Authorities initially thought there was more than one gunman in the attack, but top security official Rafik Chelli told The Associated Press later that it was just one person, a young student not previously known to authorities. The rampage at the RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel ended when he was shot to death by police.

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“He was certainly involved with certain extremists,” said Chelli, the secretary of state of the Interior Ministry.

Wielding Kalashnikovs, the gunman entered the Riu Imperial Marhaba hotel from the beach, Aroui said. Security forces responded, killing him, Chelli said.

WATCH: Injured treated following deadly attack at Tunisian hotel

“A terrorist infiltrated the buildings from the back before opening fire on the residents of the hotel, including foreigners and Tunisians,” he told the state news agency.

RIU Hotels & Resorts, the Spanish company that owns the hotel, offered its condolences to the victims and their families of the attack.

“We would like to extend our sincere condolences to the victims and their relatives, and are awaiting to know more about this incident,” the company said in a statement. “We are collecting all the information about the incident and are in permanent contact with the authorities in order to have full information about what happened.”

Speaking with Sky News, a British tourist said there was an explosion at a hotel complex.

“There was a mass exodus off the beach,” Gary Pine told the news station.

Health officials said among those killed were French, German, Russian and British nationals.

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Photos from the scene show bodies on the beach face down in the sand.

Unverified photos show the body of the suspected gunman laying on the ground with an assault rifle after an exchange of gunfire.

Sousse, some 150 kilometres from Tunis, is a popular resort for Tunisians, Europeans and North Americans.

Also on Friday, an attacker with suspected ties to French Islamic radicals rammed a car into a gas factory in southeastern France, and a severed head was staked on a post at the entrance, officials said. France immediately opened a terrorism investigation.

Speaking in Brussels, British Prime Minister David Cameron called the events in France and Tunisia “appalling” and offered “our solidarity in fighting this evil of terrorism,” the BBC reported.

In Kuwait City, at least 16 people were killed after an attack on a Shiite mosque.

The extremist Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the explosion at the Imam Sadiq Mosque in Kuwait City during midday prayers Friday.