The Tunisian gunman who opened fire at a beach resort in Sousse, killing 38 people, was trained by jihadists in Libya, Tunisian government said on Tuesday.
The perpetrator, identified as 23-year-old Seifeddine Rezgui, received arms training in Sabratha, west of Tripoli, according to Secretary of State for Security Rafik Chelli.
According to The Guardian, Chelli said, “Investigations show Saif Rezgui was in contact with terrorists in Libya and that he is likely to have trained in a Libyan camp.”
The two gunmen responsible for the killings of 22 people in an attack on the Bardo Museum in March were also being trained with Rezgui.
“[Rezgui] crossed the borders secretly,” Mr Chelli said.
Rezgui had traveled to Libya at the same time as the Bardo gunmen.
Prime Ministerial spokesman Dafer Neji said, “Rezgui had training in Libya at the end of 2014. He was trained during the same time in Libya as the Bardo attackers,” as reported by Reuters.
At least 21 Britons have been reportedly killed in the attack at the luxury Imperial Marhaba hotel on the Sousse beach.
Several suspects believed to have helped Rezgui have been arrested, according to the interior minister. Pictures of two individuals – Bin Abdallah and Rafkhe Talari – suspected of aiding the gunmen were released by the Tunisian authorities.
Islamic State has created a stronghold in Libya, and controls the towns of Derna and Sirte.
British interior minister Theresa May, along with the interior ministers of France and Germany, visited the site of the shooting yesterday to pay tribute to those killed. They offered Tunisia support and cooperation in security, intelligence and police training.
France’s travel agencies reported 80 percent cancellations in holiday bookings for Tunisia. Several of these customers looked to change their destinations, according to RTE. With Friday’s shooting, Tunisia’s tourism industry recorded a loss of $515 million for this year.
Tourism Minister Selma Elloumi Rekik said, “The attack had a great impact on the economy, the losses will be large.”
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi admitted that there was not enough security to resist an attack of this magnitude, according to BBC. While adequate security was deployed at other areas during the holy month of Ramadan, an attack on a beach had come as a surprise.
The UK Foreign Office warned travelers to be careful as they suspect another terrorist attack in the country is possible.
Since the incident, almost 1,000 British travelers have returned home from Tunisia.
Tunisia has become a breeding ground for fundamental Islamist movements over the past few years. The armed forces have often engaged in fights with local Islamist extremists close to the border with Algeria.
Almost 3,000 Tunisians have fled to join Islamic militant groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
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