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Tunisia attack: chilling new video shows gunman firing shots as he is chased by hotel staff – latest
The number of British victims confirmed dead reached 18 today but it is expected to rise to around 30
• More than 30 Britons killed in worst terror attack since 7/7
• PM announces nationwide minute’s silence on Friday
• Everything we know so far about the British victims
• Gunman’s father has “no idea” who influenced his son
• Tunisia travel advice for tourists after terrorist shooting in Sousse
• Labour candidate posed for selfie at scene of beach massacre
This video shows the terrifying moments after the gunman Seifeddine Rezgui entered the Hotel Marhaba resort in Sousse. He has already murdered dozens of sunbathers on the beach. The brave hotel staff are seen searching for the killer after hearing gunshots. Shouts can be heard before Rezgui is finally shot by police.
Tunisia’s interior ministry put out a request on its Facebook page on Monday evening, asking the public to give any information it had on two people it believes may have assisted Rezgui. Their names were given as Mohamed bin Abdallah and Rafikhe Taiari.
Officials have said they will deploy 1,000 armed officers from July 1 to reinforce the tourism police who will also carry guns for the first time, and there are plans to close 80 mosques accused of inciting extremism.
An armed soldier on the beach at Sousse (Warren Allott for the Telegraph)
Pictures have emerged of the Irish couple who lost their lives in the massacre. Laurence and Martina Hayes, both in their 50s, were from the town of Athlone in Co Westmeath.
Holiday firms Thomson and First Choice issued a statement saying they are “aware that some families continue to wait for news of their loved ones”.
It added: “We would like to reassure those in this position that we are doing everything we can to provide information as soon as we are able to do so.”
Gunman could have been trained in Libya
Tunisian authorities have arrested a group of suspects associated with the attacker who carried out the beach hotel attack, the country’s interior minister said.
Mr Gharsalli did not give further details, but he said officials also were still verifying whether the attacker had been trained in neighbouring Libya in jihadist camps.
The minister added a “significant number” of individuals allegedly linked to Seifeddine Rezgui have been detained.
A total of 38 people, including up to 30 Britons, died after 23-year-old student Rezgui opened fire in the resort of Sousse on Friday. The self-proclaimed Islamic State – also known as Isil – later claimed responsibility.
The Prime Minister said: “This is not the war between Islam and the West which Isil want people to believe – 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 – together we will prevail.”
He revealed that a major exercise involving the emergency services and security services will take place in London this week to ensure the UK is prepared to deal with terrorism.
Row over response time
Tunisia’s interior minister Najem Gharsalli has said that the operation to eliminate terrorist Seifeddine Rezgui could have taken place more quickly if there had been better coordination between hotel staff and the security forces.
Gharsalli said that the security staff at Sousse’s Imperial Marhaba Hotel did not call the police during the first minutes of the attack.
The local owner of the hotel, Zohra Driss, who is also a member of Tunisia’s parliament, said that she had called the interior minister directly on his personal telephone to inform him of the situation. Gharsalli confirmed that he had received the call from Mrs Driss.
But the hotel spokesman said today that his staff phoned police immediately.
Two harbour guards have said they got a call and arrived at the scene by boat, both armed. They said that they followed Rezgui up the narrow street that he walked up after his second visit to the beach and shot him from behind.
A waiter from the Royal Kenz said he saw two other armed policemen advance northward up the beach but after the arrival of the launch with the two harbour guards.
Thomas Cook has said it has brought back around 1,500 guests who wanted to leave Tunisia earlier than scheduled on four repatriation flights. One flight left today and three were over the weekend. Including those who have returned to the UK on our regular scheduled flights, around 4,000 Thomas Cook UK guests have left Tunisia since the attack on Friday 26th June.
The company said: “We are committed to doing everything we can to support our customers who want to depart, and will continue to closely monitor the situation. If there is further demand we will provide additional capacity to ensure all customers who would like to come back to the UK can do so safely and as soon as possible.
“We can confirm that the reported hotels are not offered by Thomas Cook, and that none of our customers or staff were in residence at the time of the incident. However, we do currently have customers staying in other parts of the resort, and our experienced teams on the ground are continuing to offer every support to them and their families at this difficult time. Thomas Cook would like to extend its most sincere condolences to the family and friends of those affected.”
If you have any queries over your holiday booking you can call Thomas Cook’s helpline: 01733 224 536
Around half of British tourists on holiday in Tunisia have returned to the UK since the terror attack, the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) believes.
The organisation estimates that 10,000 British tourists have flown back from the North African country, with a significant number coming from Sousse, the beach resort where the massacre occurred.
Roughly half of those who have returned have done so aboard regular scheduled flights, the remaining on specially commissioned flights.
But while many holidaymakers have fled the country, Abta said it was too early to assess the numbers of cancelled or altered holiday bookings, but suggested there was a “mixed perspective” from tourists.
Labour’s Sadiq Khan has argued the Metropolitan Police cannot continue to do “the outstanding job they do in protecting Londoners” faced with another round of cuts.
Writing in the Daily Mirror, he said: “There can be no better source of information than that from the communities that are being targeted by extremists, but without the resources to build those relationships, to develop the trust then the police will be operating with one hand tied its back.”
Over the next two days security services and emergency services will conduct a major exercise in London, the Prime Minister has announced. There will be a national minute of silence on Friday, a week after the attack occurred.
“There is no evidence to date that they were directly coordinated,” said Mr Cameron. He added that there are over 50 people on the ground assisting in Tunisia and the RAF will arrange directly the repatriations of victims. Over 380 counter terrorism and local officers have been at British airports assisting those coming home. It is the largest counter-terrorism deployment in a decade.
Mr Cameron said the Foreign and Common Wealth Office have updated their travel advice and are not advising against travel to coastal resorts in the region.
“We will not give up our way of life or cow in the face of terrorism,” he said. “The Tunisians and Kuwaitis will not… be cowed by terror,” he added.
The death toll of British victims is likely to rise above the current total of 18, David Cameron has said in the house. Mr Cameron said this morning’s Cobra emergencies committee went through the attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France in its meeting.
MPs are now marking the attack in Tunisia with a minute’s silence in the Commons
The Prime Minister, who chaired a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergencies committee at 10 Downing Street, is due to speak in the House of Commons soon.
We have an update on the suspected associates of gunman Seifeddine Rezgui who have been arrested.
Tunisia’s interior minister Najem Gharsalli has said a “significant number” of individuals were detained.
News of the arrests follows the Home Secretary Theresa May’s visit to the scene of the attack. Mrs May said she had had a “very constructive” meeting with politicians from Tunisia and other countries.
Four people needing treatment are being flown back to the UK on board an RAF C17 plane with “medevac” teams experienced at bringing injured service personnel back from operations overseas. The aircraft left the Brize Norton base in Oxfordshire at lunchtime.
“We are very clear that the terrorists will not win,” said Mrs May, speaking after the beach memorial service. “We will be united in working together to defeat them, but united also in working to defend our values.”
Tributes to those who lost their lives during the attack continue to pour in
Claire Windass’s family have described her as a “warm, kind-hearted woman” who was loved by everyone who knew her.
The 54-year-old, from Hull, was on the beach with husband Jim when she was killed in the attack on Friday.
Mr Windass, 66, “miraculously managed to escape physically unharmed and has now returned to his home in Hull, where he is surrounded by family and friends at this emotionally difficult time for us all,” the family said.
The family continued: “We are deeply saddened by the death of Claire Windass during the terror attacks in Tunisia.
“She was a warm, kind-hearted woman who made friends easily and was loved by everyone who knew her. She will be deeply missed.
“We are all grieving and hope our privacy will be respected in this matter. Thank-you.”
Mrs Windass had two children and two stepchildren and was born and grew up in Barnetby-le-Wold, North Lincolnshire.
She lived in Scunthorpe for 35 years before moving to Hull in 2012 when she married Mr Windass.
Mrs Windass worked in learning disability and intermediate care services for North Lincolnshire Council for 18 years.
London mayor Boris Johnson has reassured Londoners after the Tunisian attack, but added his office would be preparing to commemorate the 7/7 terror attacks on the capital.
Mr Johnson said: “Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. We don’t at the moment think there is any read across with security in London.
“Obviously we have had a lot of conversations with the police and security services about any intelligence they may have – and at the moment we do not see anything.
“Clearly it is also very poignant that this should happen just at the moment that we are preparing next week to memorialise 7/7 – the appalling tragedy in 2005 when 52 Londoners lost their lives.”
Tunisia authorities have arrested suspects associated with the beach hotel attacker.
Tunisian authorities have arrested a group of suspects associated with the attacker who carried out the shooting at a beach hotel attack, Reuters has reported. Thirty nine people, mainly British tourists, were killed, the country’s interior minister said today.
Interior Minister Najem Gharsalli did not give further details, but he said officials also were still verifying whether the attacker had been trained in neighbouring Libya in jihadist camps.
Tunisia attack: inside the gunman’s apartment
Theresa May’s Tunisian counterpart links arms with the Home Secretary at a memorial service on the beach
Theresa May said: “There’s no evidence that this was a deliberate attempt to attack British tourists.”
While the majority of dead are British, the hotel is also popular with other Europeans and two Germans were killed.
Here is the latest from Ben Farmer:
Theresa May said Foreign Office travel advice had not been changed for Tunisia, but a team of experts had been flown out to assess the situation.
She said: “We have sent a team of people out here assessing protective security here.”
“We will be working with other colleagues, other countries, who have an interest in this.”
Here is a video of Theresa May speaking in Sousse:
Home Secretary Theresa May and foreign office minister Tobias Ellwood has said decisions surrounding the repatriation of victims of the attack are being made in accordance with the wishes of family members.
We have learnt that MPs are to observe a minute’s silence in the House of Commons before the Prime Minister gives an update on the response to the Tunisian atrocity following another Cobra meeting this morning.
Our Defence Correspondent Ben Farmer has the latest from Sousse:
Theresa May has addressed a press conference at the hotel where the attack took place.
She said: “What happened last Friday was a despicable act of cruelty. How could a place of such beauty be turned into such a scene of brutality and destruction.
“Sadly we know that at least 18 British tourists died in this attack, but we know also that the number will rise.”
She said she had heard “horror stories of people who went through this”.
She said she had also heard “stories of great bravery. The young man who shielded his fiancé from the bullets, the staff at the hotel who protected their guests.”
She said Tunisia was a beacon of democracy in north Africa and she and the country’s president were “determined to fight against this perverted ideology which is causing this death and destruction.”
She said they were “united to defeat them, but united also in working together to defend our values”.
The government is to press the Tunisian authorities to “speed up” the identification of victims amid growing fury from their families, writes our political correspondent Steven Swinford.
A dozen Britons have still not been identified, leading to accusations from relatives that they feel abandoned by the Foreign Office.
Downing Street said that Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is today likely to press the Tunisian authorities to speed up the identification of British victims.
A spokesman said: “It is about making sure the experts we have on the ground who are trained in victim identification can get he right access quickly. It is really about trying to speed up the process.
“The Prime Minister understand the concerns of families who are desperately waiting for confirmed news and information. He also recognises the circumstances in which the consular staff and police
Four injured Britons will be flown home on an RAF C17, meaning that by tomorrow all wounded victims will be back in this country.
More than 50 British officials are present in Tunisia and will also be looking at how to “beef up” security in and around hotels.
Mrs May spoke of some of the horror stories she has been listening to from survivors. In particular, she singled out Mathew James, from Cardiff, who used his body to shield his fiancé Saera Wilson from the shooting.
Mrs May thanked the hotel staff and Tunisian authorities for their support in the aftermath of the attack. The Home Secretary said they have had a constructive meeting with their Tunisian counterparts this morning.
Mrs May has called the terror act one of “despicable cruelty”. She said sadly we know at least 18 Britons were killed in the attack, “but sadly that number will rise”.
Home Secretary Theresa May has taken her seat at the press briefing and looks likely to speak shortly.
All Britons injured in the Sousse terror attack will be returned to the UK within 24 hours, Downing Street has said, as the official UK death toll reached 18.
Tunisia attack: survivors’ stories
Our Defence Correspondent Ben Farmer is in Sousse:
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has paid her respects to the dead of the Tunisian terror attack during a visit to the country.
Mrs May, accompanied by foreign office minister Tobias Ellwood and ministers from Germany and France, stood in silence at a tribute of flowers by the sun loungers on the beach at the Imperial Marhaba Hotel where the attack began.
The British Government has been stung by criticism that is has been slow to help the wounded or the desperate families of the missing. Four days after the attack, several victims have yet to be identified.
The visitors were flanked by heavily armed Tunisian security forces, wearing balaclavas and carrying assault rifles. Tunisian counter terror police were dressed all in black, while national guard commandos wore camouflage. Marksmen could also be seen on a police motor launch cruising up and down the white sand beach.
School children wearing the red of Tunisia’s national flag laid flowers.
British government officals and diplomats wore dark suits or fluorescent high visibility jackets as they accompanied the Home Secretary.
She did not answer questions, but is expected to speak later today.
Mrs May is believed to be today visiting Britons still in hospital after Friday’s attack which killed is thought to have killed at least 30 British.
The few remaining tourists on the beach looked on in bewilderment at the scene and the scrum of more than a hundred journalists.
Theresa May at the memorial service on the beach in Sousse
Theresa May is in Sousse, Tunisia and is expected to hold a press briefing in the next few minutes.
Pictures of the gunman in action have emerged
Theresa May on the beach in Sousse
Theresa May on the beach here pic.twitter.com/N3YwNScVoq
— Julian Druker (@Julian5News) June 29, 2015
People are placing flowers and scarves in memory of Patrick Evans, Adrian Evans and Joel Richards at Walsall FC’s Banks’s Stadium in Walsall.
Home Secretary arrives in Sousse
Theresa May has arrived in Tunisia to pay her respects to the dead and meet with the local authorities to discuss security.
She travelled to the country with Tobias Ellwood, the junior foreign minister. They will meet Tunisian officials to see how the UK can help the country boost its counter-terror measures.
Mrs May will also pay her respects at the hotel where the events took place, said a Government spokeswoman. The Home Secretary will meet British survivors and relatives, some of whom have been critical of the support they have received from the UK Government.
The spokeswoman said Mrs May and Mr Ellwood would also “assess what more we can do – both on the ground in Sousse to help those directly affected, and, more widely, discussing with the Tunisian government how we can work with them on intelligence and security matters and build their capacity to deal with terrorism.
“Both ministers will also meet UK police and forensic investigators, as well as consular staff and HM ambassador.”
David Cameron is chairing the latest Cobra emergency committee meeting. The Prime Minister will speak in the Commons later.
Arriving at the meeting, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “Everything that can be done will be done.”
— David Hughes (@DavidHughesPA) June 29, 2015
Mr Salmond also said Foreign Office advice that Tunisia’s beaches were safe looked “hopelessly complacent” after 38 people were killed when a gunman opened fire on tourists in the resort of Sousse on Friday.
He said: “For every hundred or even thousand plots that are foiled one will surely escape the net.
“That is not an argument for not having an effective security net just a realisation that the real battle is one for hearts and minds. We have to drain the dark well from which extremism breeds.
“If we don’t then the appalling scenes we have seen on our television screens this black weekend will be repeated time and time again over the next generation.
“And many more families will wonder why their loved ones went off on something as innocent as a fun-filled holiday never to return.”
Alex Salmond has joined calls for broadcasters to stop using the name Islamic State in the wake of the Tunisian beach massacre. The SNP’s foreign affairs spokesman at Westminster said using the term was “an own goal of massive proportions” in a column for the Courier and Press and Journal newspapers.
Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed frustration at the BBC for referring to the terrorist organisation as Islamic State, urging the use of the prefix “‘so-called” or the term Isil, the abbreviation of the title Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Mr Salmond backed French foreign minister Laurent Fabius’s plea for the use of the Arabic name Daesh.
The former first minister and SNP leader said: “Any description of terrorists which confers on them the image that they are representing either a religion or a state must surely be wrong and an own goal of massive proportions. It is after all how they wish to refer to themselves.
“However, the real point of using Daesh is that it separates the terrorists from the religion they claim to represent and from the false dream of a new caliphate that they claim to pursue.
“It should become the official policy of the Government and be followed by the broadcasting organisations.”
The gunman’s father has spoken of his shock and shame at his son’s actions. He has no idea who influenced his son. “I feel like I have died along with the victims, I am so ashamed,” he said. Watch the full interview with the gunman’s father.
Do the latest terrorist attacks in Tunisia mean tourists can change or cancel their plans for travel to resorts in the country? Read the latest advice regarding travel plans here
Former navy chief Admiral Lord West said Britain must step up the “propaganda war” against IS, also known as Isil.
“They are running rings around us in terms of the social media they are putting out,” he said.
He also suggested the West should consider working with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in order to target IS’s territory in Syria.
“He is a loathsome man but Isil have got some safe havens in Syria,” he said.
Lord West also called for Britain to consider joining the US in conducting air strikes against IS targets in Syria.
Possible second gunman
A retired police officer told today how a second gunman in red shorts opened fire on tourists on the beach in Tunisia.
Steve Johnson, who witnessed the attack first hand, described how he saw a man in red shorts holding an automatic rifle who was shooting tourists along with the gunman in dark clothing.
The eye witness’s account suggests that the gunman was not a ‘lone wolf’ as current reports state.
Mr Johnson saw the second gunman in red shorts whilst he was sheltering from the attack. Mr Johnson later described the second gunman to a high-ranking policeman who told him that a man matching the description was “dead as well”.
Mr Johnson said: “We saw what we believe was a second terrorist. It was a guy in red shorts, walking down from the hotel into the pool area. He just had red shorts on, nothing else on his legs or his feet or his body.
“And he had an automatic rifle in his arms and people were just running from him.” Police officers confirmed that a man of his description had also been killed.
The brother of a woman injured in the Tunisia beach massacre has spoken of his pride at her courage but said the family are still desperately waiting for further news.
Allison Heathcote, 48, from Felixstowe, Suffolk, is in critical condition in hospital after being shot twice while on the beach at Sousse on Friday. She was on holiday with her husband, Philip Heathcote, originally from Manchester, who is missing.
Philip Heathcote is still missing (Archant)
Writing on Facebook, her brother Simon Boon said: “I love Allison with all of my heart and would do anything for her, however here I am feeling helpless.
“This post is nothing more than a way of showing the immense pride I feel for the courage she has shown firstly laying on a beach having been shot twice and secondly now fighting for her life after surgery.”
Mr Boon told the East Anglia Daily Times that the family had received one phone call from the British Embassy but had struggled for further information.
He added: “We fully understand that it must have been chaos at first and the priority would obviously be to contact and help those families who had lost loved ones.
“But it’s been two days now and you would think they would be able to tell us something – it is so frightening and so very worrying for us all.
“I had been wondering whether to go out to Tunisia… but I didn’t know if that would be a good idea or would help at all.”
I have asked for the flags over No10 to be flown at half-mast in memory of the victims of the terrorist attack in Tunisia.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) June 28, 2015
Fight against Isil like ‘Cold War’
Political correspondent Ben Riley-Smith:
David Cameron has compared the fight against Isil to the Cold War and said the existential threat to Britain’s way of life it poses will take a “very long time” to defeat.
The Prime Minister criticised the BBC for using the terrorist group’s preferred title of ‘Islamic State’ amid fears the term legitimises its attempt to create an Islamist caliphate in the Middle East.
He also pledged the government would do all it could to name the British victims killed in the terrorist authorities and would consider helping repatriate bodies back to the UK.
It comes as Theresa May, the Home Secretary, headed out to Tunisia to help with the fallout from last week’s “lone wolf” terror attack at the hotel beach in Sousse.
Asked whether he thought the “Islamic State” posed an existential threat during an interview on BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme, Mr Cameron criticised the use of the phrase.
“I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State because it’s not an Islamic State. What it is is an appalling, barbarous regime,” the Prime Minister said.
“It is a perversion of the religion of Islam and many Muslims listening to this programme will recoil every time they hear the words Islamic State.”
There are fears the term – which is used by the group itself – helps legitimise the concept of a single Islamist caliphate which stretches across national borders in the Middle East.
Mr Cameron said the fight against Isil was like that against the Soviet Union after the Second World War because it was a battle of ideologies, telling voters they must show “patience” as well as “resolve”.
He also called on Britons to take a tougher stance on extremists who do not condone terrorism because such views can be a “gateway” to terror.
The Prime Minister said there were organisations that “set themselves up as representative of Muslims when they actually are not” and urged people not to treat them as “representations of the community”.
Police have now put out a picture of Stuart Cullen
Suffolk Police earlier confirmed Mr Cullen, 52, from the Lowestoft area in Suffolk, also died in the attack. It is believed he died instantly and was with his wife at the time. She suffered injuries but survived and has returned to the UK.
A spokesman said: “The family has asked that their privacy is respected as they try to cope.”
— ProducerCleah (@ProducerCleah) June 29, 2015
A Labour general election candidate has sparked outrage by posing for a selfie at the spot where the Tunisian beach massacre happened.
Amran Hussain, 29, who was on a week-long holiday with four friends, was pictured holding his selfie stick aloft just 48 hours after dozens of tourists were slaughtered.
More on the story here.
We now have a picture of Philip Heathcote, from Felixstowe. Mr Heathcote was in Tunisia with his wife Allison, who was seriously injured. Allison’s brother Simon Boon has told the BBC they are struggling to find out information about Philip.
The Home Secretary will be joined by Tobias Ellwood, the foreign office minister with responsibilities of the Middle East and North Africa. They will visit the beach by the RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel and the RIU Bellevue where at least 30 Britons are believed to have been killed.
David Cameron announced the arrangements during an interview with BBC Radio Four’s Today programme as he pledged the government would do everything it could to help identify the British victims.
David Cameron has pledged a “full spectrum” response to terrorists following the Tunisian beach massacre. The Prime Minister said Home Secretary Theresa May is travelling to the country today for talks on how to address the extremist threat and to pay condolences at the scene.
An RAF C17 transport plane is also being deployed to help bring stranded tourists home, and potentially repatriate bodies.
Tourists and Tunisians at a demonstration in solidarity with Tunisian tourism in Djerba
Mr Cameron has called for greater integration in Britain, saying many Muslims have come out on many occasions and said the terror attacks have not been done in their name.
However he said there are many extremists who fall short of supporting terrorism, but whose views are not acceptable in Britain. “If we identify the problem correctly we can deal with it,” he said.
Sad news in from Suffolk Police, who have confirmed Stuart Cullen, 52, from the Lowestoft area in Suffolk, also died in the attack. It is believed he died instantly and was with his wife at the time. She suffered injuries but survived and has returned to the UK.
A spokesman said: “The family has asked that their privacy is respected as they try to cope.”
Mr Cameron has said stable governments are needed in Iraq, Syria and Lybia.
“They are attacking our way of life and what we stand for,” said Mr Cameron. He highlighted Isil’s hold on Iraq and Syria.
“Destroying it at source is not enough, we have to deal with this radical narrative in our own country,” Mr Cameron has said.
Prime Minister David Cameron is on air speaking to the BBC. He has said the Islamic State is a “perversion of a great religion”. Isil, he said, is “an appalling, barborous regime that is a perversion of Islam”.
“I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State because it’s not an Islamic State. What it is is an appalling, barbarous regime.
“It is a perversion of the religion of Islam and many Muslims listening to this programme will recoil every time they hear that words Islamic State.”
Tunisian authorities say they believe the gunman had accomplices who helped set up the shooting spree. A major international investigation is underway and more than 600 British police will also work on the case.
Speaking on BBC’s Radio 4 just now, Tunisia’s ambassador to the UK Nabil Ammar has said the attack reminded him of WW2. “Our blood is now mixed for the second time,” he said. He said that the inquiry into the attack is still going on into how the terrorist was able to carry out the attack.
He added: “This can happen in every part of the world, no one is safe from that… This is not a justification, it’s just to remind that this can happen everywhere.”
Writing exclusively for The Telegraph, the Prime Minister has said Britain is “united in shock and in grief” following the deaths of at least 38 tourists after a gun and grenade rampage by Isil militant Seifeddine Rezgui.
Mr Sayed said Thomas Cook had arranged for 1,100 guests that wanted to come back early over the last 72 hours.
Thousands of tourists have arrived back in the UK from Tunisia in the wake of Friday’s attack in the resort of Sousse. Holiday firms have put on extra flights for people wishing to return back to Britain since the attack. Salman Sayed, Thomas Cook’s UK managing director, told BBC Radio 4’s Today show the company offered its condolences to the families affected by the tragedy.
Later today, ministers from Britain, France and Germany will visit the seaside Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel south of Tunis, where the killings took place.
Good morning. We will resume our live coverage with this report from the Press Association about Britons on holiday near Sousse who have vowed to “keep calm and carry on”. Vicky Aspinall, 26, and her sister Beth, 19, and their partners Rick Roche and Lee Murrell were in the air en route to a week’s holiday as the drama was unfolding. The two couples, from Norwich, are staying at the Sentido Rosa Beach hotel in Skanes, just 10 miles from Sousse, the scene of the terrorist attack. They and other guests are determined to enjoy their holiday.
Mr Roche described how they gradually became aware of the terrible events. He said: “We landed and turned our phones on and Beth had a missed call and a text from her dad saying ‘Is everyone OK?”‘ Vicky said: “We didn’t know what had happened. Other people were being told that because of an ‘incident’ they needed to get on a different coach. “No-one mentioned terrorism. We thought it was a problem with our hotel.” Once they were on the coach everyone’s phones started going off and the full picture began to emerge. Beth said: “A woman a few rows in front of us told us there had been a terror attack and seven people had been killed. Fifteen minutes later it had gone up to 27:” Mr Roche, who works in security, said: “We had no idea how close it was to our hotel. We didn’t think much about it to start with – Tunisia’s a big place.” Vicky said: “We realised it was quite close when we saw lots of armed police at the roundabout as we were dropping people from the affected hotels to a different location. Beth, who is on her first holiday without her parents, said: “Everyone at home was really stressed and worried. Dad asked ‘Have you reached your hotel yet?’ I thought he was just being over-protective.” As the true horror began to emerge, with Mr Roche’s mother providing him with the facts from watching the news at home, family members were asking if the group were going to go home. Insurance worker Vicky said: “The short answer to that was no! We didn’t see the point – what had happened had already happened. “If we’d been in that hotel we would have gone home, but we’re here, we’re in the best position to make decisions.”