Tunisia makes first beach attack arrests as the UK urges fightback
Tunisia said Monday it had made its first arrests after a beach massacre that killed 38 people, as European officials paid tribute to victims of the country’s worst jihadist attack.
British Home Secretary Theresa May, speaking at the scene of Friday’s gun attack at a Tunisian holiday resort, vowed that “the terrorists will not win” after London warned that the UK’s death toll could rise to “around 30.”
The massacre, claimed by the Islamic State group, was the deadliest for the UK since the 2005 London bombings, and there are fears it could inflict a devastating blow to Tunisia’s vital tourism industry.
Interior Minister Hajem Gharsalli said the authorities had arrested “a significant number of people from the network that was behind this terrorist criminal,” referring to the lone gunman.
May traveled on Monday to the resort of Port el Kantaoui south of Tunis, and promised to fight extremism in the wake of the attack.
“We will be united in working together to defeat them but united also in working to defend our values,” May said at a joint news conference with her German, French and Tunisian counterparts after visiting the scene of the killings.
“We are resolved ... to defeat those who would do us harm, to defeat those who would undermine our freedom and democracy and to ensure that the terrorists do not win,” she added.
May and the German and French interior ministers, Thomas de Maiziere and Bernard Cazeneuve, joined Tunisian officials in laying a wreath in the sand near the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel where the attack happened.
Shocking New Footage
A spokesperson for British Prime Minister David Cameron, meanwhile, said the UK had identified 18 of its nationals killed, but warned that the number may rise to “around 30.”
Tunisia says four other victims have been identified as being tourists from Germany, Portugal, Ireland and Belgium. Ireland said Sunday three of its citizens were killed.
Shocking new amateur footage from the attack has emerged on social media, showing the gunman walking calmly along the shore and bloodied bodies on the sand.
Intermittent gunfire can be heard in the 11-minute amateur video, recorded by a Tunisian man using his mobile phone who can be heard asking: “Why do you kill people? Why?”
The attacker, identified
as 23- year- old student Seifeddine Rezgui, pulled a Kalashnikov assault rifle from inside a beach umbrella and opened fire on holidaymakers at the resort before being shot dead.
Flowers have been laid along the beach near the resort. On Monday, handwritten messages could be seen placed next to the flowers reading “We are sorry” and “We are Muslims, not terrorists.”
Cameron vowed to mount a full investigation and called for “a response at home and abroad” to violent Islamic fundamentalism.
“We must be stronger at standing up for our values — of peace, democracy, tolerance, freedom,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
The attack — the second on tourists in Tunisia after the National Bardo Museum killings killed 22 people in March — prompted authorities to boost security at attractions and along its 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) of coastline.
People lay flowers and scarves in tribute to three club soccer fans who lost their lives in the recent Tunisia beach massacre, in memory of Patrick Evans, Adrian Evans and Joel Richards, at Walsall soccer club Banks’s Stadium in Walsall, England on Monday June 29.