Tu­nisia to ramp up se­cu­rity af­ter at­tack


Tu­nisia weighed new se­cu­rity mea­sures Sun­day as it scram­bled to se­cure its vi­tal tourism sec­tor af­ter 38 peo­ple were killed at a sea­side re­sort in the worst ji­hadist at­tack in its history.

The coun­try’s Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil was to meet later Sun­day af­ter author­i­ties vowed to ramp up se­cu­rity fol­low­ing Fri­day’s at­tack tar­get­ing tourists, which saw at least 15 Bri­tons killed.

Af­ter an emer­gency meet­ing late on Satur­day, In­te­rior Min­is­ter Na­jem Gharsalli promised new steps to en­sure the “pro­tec­tion of Tu­nisia’s tourist sites and beaches by armed po­lice units.”

“We can no longer re­frain from tak­ing dif­fi­cult mea­sures,” Gharsalli said in a state­ment car­ried by Mo­saique FM ra­dio, adding that at least 1,000 mem­bers of se­cu­rity forces would be in­volved in se­cur­ing tourist sites.

Author­i­ties had ear­lier an­nounced plans to de­ploy armed se­cu­rity of­fi­cers along the coast and in­side ho­tels from July 1 and to shut down 80 mosques ac­cused of in­cit­ing ex­trem­ism.

The at­tack saw a Tu­nisian stu­dent dis­guised as a tourist pull out a Kalash­nikov ri­fle hid­den in a para­sol and open fire on beach­go­ers at the Riu Im­pe­rial Marhaba ho­tel in Port El Kan­taoui, near Sousse south of the cap­i­tal Tu­nis.

Wit­nesses have de­scribed scenes of sheer terror, with the gun­man mow­ing down scream­ing tourists as many ran for their lives.

One Tu­nisian wit­ness said the gun­man had only tar­geted tourists, telling lo­cals: “Stay away, I didn’t come for you.”

Tu­nisian author­i­ties have so far iden­ti­fied 18 of those killed as 14 Bri­tons, a Ger­man, a Bel­gian, a woman from Ire­land and another from Por­tu­gal.

Warn­ing to Bri­tish Tourists

Health of­fi­cials have said iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the bod­ies is tak­ing time as many of the vic­tims were not car­ry­ing ID at the beach.

The at­tack was the United King­dom’s worst loss of life in a ji­hadist at­tack since the 2005 Lon­don bomb­ings. The UK has said at least 15 of its cit­i­zens were con­firmed dead and warned that the toll is likely to rise.

The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment cau­tioned Sun­day that other at­tacks “are pos­si­ble” in Tu­nisia, urg­ing visi­tors to re­main vig­i­lant.

The at­tack was swiftly claimed by the Is­lamic State group, the ex­trem­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion that has seized con­trol of large parts of Syria and Iraq and car­ried out a wave of at­tacks around the world.

It came just three months af­ter another IS-claimed at­tack on the Bardo Na­tional Mu­seum in Tu­nis killed 21 tourists and a po­lice­man.

It was car­ried out on the same day as a sui­cide bomb­ing that killed 26 peo­ple at a Shi­ite mosque in Kuwait, which was also claimed by IS, and a sus­pected Is­lamist mur­der at a fac­tory in France.

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