At least 30 Britons have been reportedly killed in a Tunisia beach attack when a man having links with the Islamic State group unleashed a reign of terror near Sousse. Sources say that the number could go higher.
The official count of those dead is more than what was initially reported because of the difficulties encountered in identifying the deceased. While several of the fatalities were wearing swimwear and weren’t carrying identification, it took time to find relatives who could visually confirm the identities of many others.
A British coroner is overseeing the identifications.
As reported by The Guardian, dental records of some of the individuals were used to identify their bodies.
Home Secretary Theresa May said that “every effort” was being made by officials to provide families with “100% correct” information.
The total count of the fatalities will only be confirmed once The Foreign Office has identified all the bodies.
The Foreign Office asked the travelers in Tunisia to be careful.
“Further terrorist attacks in Tunisia, including in tourist resorts, are possible, including by individuals who are unknown to the authorities and whose actions are inspired by terrorist groups via social media,” it said.
Several tourists booked with Thomas Cook to fly from the UK to Tunisia were not certain whether their reservations have been cancelled or not. They took to social media to convey their messages to the travel company.
@ThomasCookCares can you follow me so I can DM you please? Supposed to be flying to tunisia this Friday
— Ellie Gransden (@ellie_gransden) June 28, 2015
@ThomasCookUK hi guys can you clarify if holiday booked to Tunisia mid sept can be cancelled or just switched to other destinations? Thx
— Dave Smith (@eracdave) June 28, 2015
In a statement released by Buckingham Palace, the Queen expressed her “sincere condolences” to the families of the victims and said that she was “shocked” at the attack.
“Prince Philip and I were shocked to learn of the attack on British tourists in Tunisia on Friday,” the Queen said.
“We send our sincere condolences to the families of those who were killed and our deepest sympathy to the people who are still fighting for their lives in hospital, and those who have been seriously injured.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those of all countries who have been affected by this terrible event.”
Seifeddine Rezgui executed the attack with the help of one or more accomplice, Tunisian officials said. The 23-year-old perpetrator was killed following the attack at the Imperial Marhaba hotel. His father and three college roommates have been questioned.
Mohammed Ali Aroui, an interior ministry spokesman, said, “We are sure that others helped, but did not participate.”
More than 600 personnel had been deployed in the operation. Several of them have been sent to British airports to talk to travelers. In addition, 16 officers, including forensic specialists and family liaison officers, have been sent to Tunisia.
According to Scotland Yard, the investigation into the attack was “likely to be one of the largest counter-terrorism deployments” since the 7/7 attack in London in 2005, an incident which killed 52 people.
In the latest video footage obtained on Sunday, Rezgui can be seen running across the beach after the shooting.
More security personnel were being deployed at Wimbledon and other “key sites, businesses and public places around the UK to help ensure they are safe for visitors and workers,” the Scotland Yard said.
Met Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said that security had also been tightened at the Pride march and the Armed Forces Day parade in London on Saturday.
“It is right that we keep our security plans under continual review to help protect and reassure the public. There has been a significant increase in the level of counter-terrorist policing activity in the UK. Last year, there were over 330 arrests, about one a day, and 89 people were convicted for terror-related offences.”
According to BBC, although the victims’ identities have not been officially confirmed, some have been identified by the families and friends. These include Carly Lovett, 24; Sue Davey and Scott Chalkley, both in their 40s; Adrian Evans, his father, Patrick Evans, 78, and nephew Joel Richards, 19; Bruce Wilkinson, 72; Lisa Burbidge, in her 60s; Claire Windass, 54; and Stephen Mellor, 59.
Prime Minister David Cameron wrote in an article for the Daily Telegraph that the terror inflicted by Islamic State militants will be met with a “full spectrum response.”
“When the gunman attacked innocent people spending time with their families on the beach, he was attacking the very things we stand for. We must be stronger at standing up for our values – of peace, democracy, tolerance, freedom,” he wrote.
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