In Brief

Tunisia beach attack inquest: 30 Britons 'unlawfully killed'

Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith says little could have been done to prevent Sousse massacre

Tunisia shooting: police officer killed close to where Brits died

20 August

A police officer has been shot dead in the Tunisian beach resort of Sousse, where 38 tourists were shot dead two months ago by a gunman said to be allied to Islamic State.

Tunisia's chief of national security, Rafik Chelly, said the assailants had opened fire on three police officers, killing one. A spokesman for the country's interior ministry said the other two were unharmed, contradicting earlier reports.

The identity of yesterday's attackers has not been confirmed, says The Guardian.

According to the BBC, the interior ministry said the deceased officer had died "during transport to the hospital" and the other two officers were "not affected". The three officers were waiting for transportation to a nearby town when they were hit.

The two attackers were riding on a powerful motorbike, says The Guardian, one firing a rifle. The incident took place on the outskirts of Sousse, in a low-income neighbourhood called Hay Zohour.

The Tunisian authorities were not able to say whether the attackers were jihadis, or had any links to Seifeddine Rezgui, who is alleged to have shot dead 30 Britons and eight other foreign tourists less than two months ago.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for those murders. Scotland Yard detectives have since said they are linking that attack to the March attack on the country's Bardo museum, where 21 tourists and a police officer died.

The Daily Telegraph says Tunisian police have made "hundreds" of arrests since the Rezgui killings, though The Guardian puts the figure at just 159.

The Daily Mail points out that the Foreign Office is now advising Britons against all but essential travel to Tunisia. Sousse is struggling to rebuild its tourist trade after the June attacks, says The Guardian.

Tunisia tourism blow as Thomson casts doubt on return

14 August

Hopes that Tunisia's tourism industry might be able to quickly shake off the damage from a deadly terror attack earlier this summer have been dealt a blow by Thomson owner TUI, which has said it may not resume travel even after the Foreign Office removes the country from its 'no-go' list.

Speaking in the wake of quarterly results that revealed the attack in June will hit company profits by up to £40m, including £10m spent repatriating customers, joint chief executive Peter Long told The Guardian he could not guarantee holidays would be offered again and that a decision would not be taken until the Government confirms it is "safe to travel".

"And then, to be quite frank, there will be a combination of our thoughts about that and what our customers are telling us about their desire to go back to the country. While we remain mindful of the importance of tourism to the country … in terms of the depth of sorrow within our organisation, we are incredibly concerned about security for our customers."

TUI, which also owns all-inclusive operator First Choice, had sent 500,000 Brits to Tunisia each year before the attack, in which a gunman killed 38 holidaymakers on a beach in the resort of Sousse, the majority of them British. Of those killed 33 "were on a TUI package holiday",  as were many of the 39 injured.

In the wake of the atrocity the UK Government updated travel advice, which had previously grouped Tunisia among "high-risk" countries, as it felt additional security measures would not "provide adequate protection". Major tour operators all follow the Foreign Office advice and the Daily Telegraph reported in July that both TUI and Thomas Cook had suspended travel until at least November.

Tourism accounted for around 15 per cent of Tunisia's GDP last year and was a fast-growing part of the economy in a country that had been the spark for the 'Arab spring' in 2010, but which was seen to be an example of stability in the region. The Independent writes that the sector is the country's "largest source of employment and revenue".

Some have said it might be possible for the industry to bounce back quickly, with the Yorkshire Post noting figures from a 2014 report by the Association of British Travel Agents that showed "most holidaymakers have short memories" and that terror incidents have only "an immediate, short-term impact".  

The Independent, though, says that due to extensive press coverage of the incident it "may take decades rather than years" to recover, as in the case of the former Yugoslavia where British visits to Croatian coastal resorts plummeted from around a million in 1990 and have grown to about 500,000 today.

Tunisia: Britons evacuated amid warning of further attacks

10 July

Thousands of British holidaymakers are expected to return home from Tunisia after the Foreign Office warned that further terrorist attacks are highly likely.

"If you are in Tunisia and you don't have an essential need to remain you should leave," the government said. But Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond said there is no information suggesting a specific or imminent threat. 

The decision is based on intelligence gathered in the wake of the terrorist attack by a gunman who killed 38 holidaymakers, the majority of them British.

Although Tunisian authorities have deployed hundreds of armed officers to beach resorts and tourists destinations across the country, the British government said it did not believe the measures put in place "provide adequate protection for British tourists at this time."

The Foreign Office estimates that there are currently up to 3,000 British tourists in Tunisia and tour operators are laying on dozens of additional flights to bring them home in the coming days.

Britons on holiday in the country are advised to contact their travel operators to make arrangements for returning home, while those travelling independently should look to book earlier flights home.

Holidaymakers should also be made aware that travelling to Tunisia at this time is likely to invalidate travel insurance policies, says Sky News.

The announcement will be another blow to Tunisian tourism industry, which accounts for 15 per cent of the country's economy. Tunisia's ambassador to the UK, Nabil Ammar, told BBC's Newsnight the decision was "what the terrorists want".

Locals are "devastated" by the advice, said Naveena Kotoor, a freelance journalist working in the country's capital Tunis. 

But despite the government's recommendation, some British tourists have expressed a desire to stay in the country. "With all the extra security, we feel completely safe," said one woman.

Hugo Gye, a senior reporter at the Daily Mail points out that a terrorist attack is as likely to occur in Britain as it is in Tunisia, according to government advice.  Heidi Barlow from Derbyshire, who is currently in Tunisia on holiday, agrees. "We have these threats in Britain anyway."

Tunisia attack: minute's silence held as more bodies return to UK

3 July

Britain will hold a minute's silence at noon today to remember the victims of the Tunisia terror attack, which took place exactly a week ago.

In a further mark of respect, flags will be flown at half-mast over Whitehall departments and Buckingham Palace. The Queen and David Cameron will join the silence, while play at Wimbledon will be delayed, reports The Guardian.

Several mosques are expected to participate in the minute's silence, with many also remembering the victims during Friday prayers.

The bodies of British victims continue to be repatriated. The remains of 17 of the 30 British victims have already returned to the UK and more are expected to be flown back today and tomorrow.

As investigations continue, Tunisian police have detained eight people on suspicion of aiding the killer Seifeddine Rezgui. The authorities are searching for two other people believed to have trained with Rezgui in Libya. Four others have been questioned in connection with the massacre.

Meanwhile, the first inquests into the deaths of the Britons will begin later at West London Coroner's Court. Coroner Chinyere Inyama is expected to open and adjourn the hearings.

Further inquests are due to be opened at the court on Saturday and Sunday. Post-mortem examinations will be carried out before the bodies are released to their families.

One person who will not be participating in today's minute's silence is comedian/activist Russell Brand, who described the gesture as "absolute bull****t". He said: "As long as during that time, they [the government] continue to sell arms, they continue to bomb foreign countries – they have no interest in a solution. Their only interest is perpetuating the problem and continuing to profit from it."

Seifeddine Rezgui: what we know about the Tunisian gunman

1 July

The gunman who carried out the attack on a beach resort in Tunisia is believed to have been trained in Libya by Islamic State militants, the country's interior secretary has revealed.

Rafik Chelli said that Seifeddine Rezgui visited the neighbouring country in January and trained alongside the two men who carried out the Bardo Museum attack, which left 22 people dead.

"The claim highlights the growing link between terrorists in both countries," with Tunisians increasingly being recruited by IS and led across the border for training, reports The Guardian.

Rezgui disguised himself as a tourist before going on an hour-long rampage through the holiday resort near Sousse in which he killed 38 holidaymakers, the majority of them British.

One British family said he was mingling with tourists on the beach and asking to take selfies with their daughter, just 48 hours before the attack.

Rezgui deliberately targeted foreign tourists, though he also shot a Tunisian woman – but quickly apologised to her. Ibrahim el Ghoul, a Tunisian man who worked at the resort and tried to stop the gunman, said Rezgui smiled at him and said: "I am not here to kill you. Turn around and go home." 

Survivors say they saw him laughing during the attack and there have been claims that Rezgui was on drugs when he carried out the murders. One of the National Guards who shot him told The Sun: "He seemed to be under the effects of drugs. He was not afraid to die."

Tunisian authorities have so far arrested at least seven people in connection with the killings but two suspects remain at large. However, investigators are still unsure how much help Rezgui had in planning the attack.

The gunman's father Abdul-Hakeem Rezgui blames the people who radicalised his son for the attack. "These people ruined my son's brain with horrid thoughts and ideas, they broke him," he told the Daily Telegraph.

Rezgui is said to have been radicalised online, in local mosques and while studying electronics in Kairouan. "He was a normal guy in his first year at the university, according to fellow students," said Rauf Alsaaidy of the General Union of Tunisian Students at Sfax University. "He was studious until he joined this Islamic student union." 

To classmates, family members and neighbours, Rezgui appeared to be a typical young man – he was interested in girls, breakdancing and Real Madrid football club.

Mohammed Ferchichi, who used to dance with Rezgui, said his friend had never been in trouble before. "He was a normal guy like us but the terrorism took him," he told the BBC.

Tunisia attack: arrests made as injured Britons flown home

30 June

Tunisian authorities have arrested a number of suspects linked to the terrorist attack on a resort that left 38 people dead, the majority of them Britons.

"We have started by arresting a first group, a significant number of people, from the network that was behind this terrorist criminal," said the country's interior minister Mohamed Najem Gharsalli.

At least a dozen people are believed to have been arrested, and authorities have launched a public appeal for information on two "dangerous terrorists" wanted in connection with the murders. 

The Tunisian government believes gunman Seifeddine Rezgui, who was shot dead by police, acted alone, but had help planning the attack. 

However, there are still doubts over whether Rezgui was the sole shooter, as several eyewitness accounts mention a second gunman, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Meanwhile, some of the British victims injured in the attack have been flown home by the RAF, with the government promising that the rest will be repatriated within the coming hours.

It is feared that the number of British tourists killed in the attack could reach 30, though only 18 have been officially identified. Dozens more were injured in the shooting and grenade attacks.

Home Secretary Theresa May yesterday visited the site of the attack and laid a wreath of flowers in memory of the victims. "What happened here last Friday was a despicable act of cruelty," she said. "How could a place of such beauty be turned into such a scene of brutality and destruction?”

David Cameron has  announced that a minute's silence will be held across the country at midday on Friday to honour the victims of the attack.

Speaking in the Commons yesterday, the Prime Minister confirmed that the gunman was part of a group of jihadists with links to Islamic State, the BBC reports.

 "This is not the war between Islam and the West, which Islamic State want people to believe," he said. "It is a generational struggle between a minority of extremists, who want hatred to flourish and the rest of us who want freedom to prosper. And together, we will prevail."

Tunisia attack: Britain on alert as UK death toll climbs

29 June

The number of Britons killed in the attack on a Tunisian beach on Friday is expected to reach 30 in the deadliest single terrorist assault on British people since the London bombings in 2005.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the "absolutely horrific" events carried out by a gunman with links to Islamic State had "shocked the whole of the world".

A 23-year old terrorist killed at least 38 people when he opened fire on holidaymakers at the Marhaba Imperial hotel. Disguised as a tourist, Seifeddine Rezgui hid his Kalashnikov in a beach umbrella and went on an hour-long rampage through the resort, before being shot dead by police.

So far, 15 Britons have been confirmed dead, including three members of the same family. A 19-year-old student, Joel Richards, his uncle, Adrian Evans, and his grandfather all died in the attack.

A number of British holidaymakers are still missing, with their relatives at home continuing to face an agonising wait for news, reports the BBC.

A major international operation is now underway, with dozens of Metropolitan police officers on the ground in Sousse helping local authorities with the investigation and providing support for the victims and their families.

Home Secretary Theresa May is travelling to the country today for talks on how to address the extremist threat and to pay her condolences to the victims. 

The authorities believe that the gunman, an aviation engineer student, had help planning the attack. They say Rezgui had never travelled abroad before and was not known to hold extremist views. Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for Friday’s assault on social media.

Tunisia is increasing security measures across the country and has promised to deploy armed police to protect tourist beaches. The Foreign Office has urged travellers to the country to be "especially vigilant," saying further terrorist attacks including in tourist resorts, are possible.

Security is also being stepped up across the UK, with Scotland Yard saying it will increase the number of officer at Wimbledon and other "key sites, business and public places to help ensure they are safe for visitors and workers," reports The Guardian.

Deadly terror attack in Tunisia hotels after beheading in France

26 June

Three terrorist attacks have been reported around the world today, including an attack on a Tunisian hotel that killed at least 27 people and a beheading near the French city of Lyon.

At least one gunman is said to have been shot dead after taking part in an attack on a hotel in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse, a popular tourist destination.

British, German and Belgian nationals are said to be among the dead.

Tunisian authorities, who are hunting another gunman, described it as a terrorist attack. One passenger jet, Jetairfly flight TB5017, which was heading from Brussels to Tunisia, even turned back because of the attack.

Sky News said it had seen photographs of a man lying in a pool of blood in his swimming shorts. One holiday-maker told the broadcaster: "It sounded like a machine gun going off. There are people crying and going hysterical. We just came up to our room."

The Tunisia attack comes after a decapitated head was found on a fence along with an Islamist flag at a factory near Lyon, France, at around 10am today.

Two men in a car reportedly crashed into the Air Products gas factory, belonging to a US company, in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier before several explosions were heard. The beheaded man was said to have Arabic inscriptions written on him and two other people were wounded in the attack.

President Francois Hollande said it "bears the hallmarks a terrorist attack" and confirmed that one suspect had been arrested. The French Interior Ministry said the suspect had been known to security forces since 2006 and listed as possibly being radicalised, but he did not have a criminal record and surveillance was dropped in 2008.

Meanwhile, deadly explosions hit a Shi'ite mosque in Kuwait's capital city following Friday prayers. At least 25 people were killed and hundreds others were wounded. "Video footage from the scene showed several bodies on the floor of the Imam Sadiq mosque amid debris and clouds of heavy smoke," reports Al Jazeera.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Kuwait attack, but the deaths in France and Tunisia are yet to be directly linked to a terrorist group.

The Washington Post says the three attacks have "increased concerns of terrorist action during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan". IS has a "history of making dramatic moves during Ramadan", says the newspaper. Last year, for example, it declared its "caliphate" on the first day of the Islamic holy month.

The militants have also killed more than 120 civilians since launching a fresh attack on the Syrian border town of Kobane, according to activists. IS has "fired at everything that moved" since entering the town on Thursday, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


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