About fifteen British tourists were shot to death in the Tunisian beach massacre at a Sousse resort on Friday after a gunman went on an open firing spree. The number is expected to escalate to 30 people at the minimum. According to sources, the death toll is expected to reach 38.
David Cameron has issued a statement saying that UK will not be “cowed by the atrocity” and will instead “stand up for (its) way of life.”
In an interview, Home Secretary Theresa May affirmed the information, saying that the rise in the figures is inevitable especially since the authorities are obtaining more information about the victims’ identities. At present, three Irish people have been confirmed to be among the unfortunate victims.
Mr. Hammond discloses how authorities had difficulty combing the bodies for personal identification since many were “dressed for the beach, not carrying ID physically on them”.
He goes on to comment: “There are a significant number of victims who have not been positively identified at this time and it is highly likely that a significant proportion of them will be British. Our agencies have been very frank about this over a long period of time now, they cannot guarantee that we will be safe from this kind of self-radicalising lone-wolf attack. It is the most difficult type of attack to detect and predict and therefore the most difficult kind to protect against.”
Hammond admits it was “extraordinarily difficult” to foretell where a similar attack will be and was “no more likely to be in Tunisia than in a European city.”
Meanwhile, the British Queen extended her condolences to the bereaved families. In a statement released by the Buckingham Palace, she said: “Prince Philip and I were shocked to learn of the attack on British tourists in Tunisia on Friday. 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.”
The Queen likewise sent her “deepest sympathy” to those who suffered injuries on the fateful Friday.
Police officials have named the gunman: Seifeddine Rezgui. Rezgui seemed to have targeted western tourists who were enjoying weekend fun at a beach at the RIU Imperial Marhaba and the RIU Bellevue. His killing spree only ceased after police shot him. They recovered a bomb on the killer’s body.
As of press time, investigators are hunting down Rezgui’s accomplice. An interior ministry spokesman was reported to have disclosed to the Associated Press they are certain that Rezgui had at least one more hand in the crime.
The names of Rezgui’s victims are as follows: three generations of the Midlands family — Patrick Evans, his son Adrian, and his 19-year-old grandson Joel Richards. His other grtandson, Joel, 16, is currently recuperating from the attack.
The rest are: Lisa Burbidge, Trudy Jones, Carly Lovett, Bruce Wilkinson, Stephen Mellor, Carty Lorna, and Laurence and Martina Hayes .
Following the killings, thousands of British tourists have flown back to UK.
Local authorities describe the size of the team mobilized for this case. Scotland Yard shared that more than 600 officers were deployed in the “2nd largest counter-terrorism operation since the 7/7 bombings.”
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, national policing lead for counter-terrorism, also said that about 16 detectives and forensic experts were assisting local officers in Tunisia, around 400 of them stationed at UK airports to talk with survivors in their search for possible witnesses.
Rowley stated: “Because of the scale of the attack, the numbers of fatalities and the international nature of it, it is likely that several hundred counter-terrorism and other police officers and staff will be working on this case for some time.”