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Tunisia attack: Five Britons dead after gunman massacres dozens of tourists

Cameron urges vigilance after Islamic terrorist guns down holidaymakers in Tunisia while France and Kuwait also hit

By Staff Reporter

Published 27/06/2015

A woman is treated on the beach for gunshot wounds
A woman is treated on the beach for gunshot wounds
Ambulances parked in front of the Imperial Marhaba Hotel
Tunisian security forces gather people in the hotel
The deserted pool area
Pandemonium as emergency services treat the wounded
Heavily armed troops at the hotel
Security search the grounds

A Kalashnikov-wielding gunman killed at least five Britons and an Irish woman in an attack at a luxury Tunisian beach resort that has left 37 people dead and dozens wounded.

The massacre was one of three Islamic terror attacks in a day of bloodshed targeting Tunisia, France and Kuwait.

The dead in the beach resort of Sousse included Britons, Tunisians, Germans and Belgians. At least 36 other people were wounded.

In France, a man once flagged for ties to Islamic radicals rammed a vehicle into a gas factory near Lyon, triggering an explosion that injured two people before the severed head of his employer was found hanging at the factory entrance, daubed with Arabic writing.

In Kuwait, a suicide bomber purportedly from an Islamic State affiliate has unleashed the first terrorist attack in the country for more than two decades, killing at least 25 people and wounding scores more at a Shiite mosque.

In Tunisia, the dead Irish woman was named as Lorna Carty from Co Meath, a nurse who was in her 50s.

Irish woman Elizabeth O'Brien had been holidaying in the area with her two sons.

Speaking to RTE Radio just after the attack, she said she initially thought it was firecrackers.

She said: "I just heard rapid firing, I thought it was fireworks, it sounds like gunfire.

"I ran to the sea and grabbed my kids and our things and, as I was running towards the hotel, the security on the beach started shouting, 'Run, run'.

"We ran to our room and now we are trapped in our room, the phone here doesn't work to contact reception.

"The consul said there was a terrorist attack in the hotel next door, he told me to stay put, my travel agent said to go to the reception to speak to the rep, but I'm afraid, so I'm stuck here in the room with my two sons.

"The agent said the attack was isolated to the hotel next door. The consul said it was a terror attack.

"I just ran as soon as I heard the noise. I just thought of the museum incident a few months ago."

During the holy month of Ramadan, Tunisia's Muslim population is less likely to go to the beach, so the victims would have been predominantly foreign tourists. Local radio said most of the dead were German or British.

In March, two gunmen attacked the national museum in Tunis, killing at least 22 people, all but one of them tourists. A group pledging allegiance to the radical Islamic State group claimed that attack and promised more in Tunisia.

Prime Minister David Cameron, responding to both attacks, said: "This is a threat that faces all of us.

"These events have taken place today in Tunisia and in France, but they can happen anywhere. We all face this threat. We have got to do all we can to help.

"That means co-operating on counter-terrorism, building our capacity on counter-terrorism; it means dealing with the threat at source, whether that is Isil (also known as Islamic State or Isis) in Syria and Iraq, or whether it is other extremist groups around the world."

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed the British fatalities in Tunisia.

He told reporters at the Foreign Office: "I would like to offer my condolences to the families and friends of the victims of these three shocking terrorist incidents in Tunisia, Kuwait and France.

"I have chaired a Cobra meeting this afternoon to look at our response to all three incidents and there will be a further Cobra meeting tomorrow morning.

"Turning to the incident in Tunisia, which is of most direct concern to people in this country because of the number of Britons involved, it is clear that there have been a number of people killed.

"The situation on the ground is still somewhat confused and we can't be sure exactly how many, but because of the nature of the composition of the tourist population in this part of Tunisia, we have to assume that a high proportion of those killed and injured will have been British.

"We have had reports from families of those involved in the incident that allow us to confirm that at least five Britons have been killed in this incident, but I should warn that we must expect that there will be more reports of fatalities as we establish the detail on the ground."

A British consular team is in Sousse, with two rapid response teams travelling to the region overnight, Mr Hammond said.

In Dublin, officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs have been in touch with the family of the Irish woman who was killed in the Tunisia attack.

Despite the attack, more than 100 holidaymakers in Dublin boarded a Sunway Holidays flight for Monastir, Tunisia, last night.

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