A year on, Tu­nisian ter­ror re­sort lies empty

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Our For­eign Staff

ONE year af­ter 30 Bri­tons were mur­dered on a Tu­nisian beach, the coun­try’s tourist in­dus­try lies in ru­ins and the area where the at­tack hap­pened is still shunned by vis­i­tors.

For 25 deadly min­utes on June 26 last year, Seifed­dine Rezgui killed sun­bathers and swim­mers as they re­laxed out­side the Im­pe­rial Marhaba ho­tel in the re­sort of Sousse.

But the blood­shed would have been even worse with­out the re­ac­tion of dozens of lo­cal Tu­nisians, who formed a hu­man chain across the beach to al­low scores of hol­i­day­mak­ers to make their es­cape.

A fund was set up to help em­ploy­ees of the now mori­bund Im­pe­rial Marhaba ho­tel. But noth­ing has been given to the “An­gels of Sousse”, who risked their lives by stand­ing be­tween the gun­man and his in­tended vic­tims.

Ji­had Hassen, 34, who was in the hu­man chain, told the Sun­day Mir­ror: “We are suf­fer­ing. Where are the Bri­tish? We did our best. When the English don’t come here, they are let­ting the ter­ror­ists win. Tu­nisia is safe, there is se­cu­rity ev­ery­where.”

Sahbi Mougou, 58, was an­other who helped to lead the ter­ri­fied tourists to safety. His wa­ter­sports busi­ness on Sousse beach has now col­lapsed.

“There are still po­lice all over the beach,” he told the Sun­day Mir­ror. “Tu­nisians are not ter­ror­ists. Just one man, who was crazy. I hate him now.”

Rezgui, 23, car­ried out his mas­sacre in the name of the Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant (Isil). In to­tal, he shot dead 38 tourists, be­fore he was killed by the se­cu­rity forces. Bri­tish tourists hap­pened to be prin­ci­pal vic­tims: the 30 who died made this the heav­i­est loss of Bri­tish life in a ter­ror­ist at­tack since the Lon­don bomb­ings on July 7 2005.

Other Tu­nisians did their best to help the wounded. Dr Ha­jer Kraiem, who was three months preg­nant, treated Gina Van Dort, a 30-year-old Bri­tish tourist from Wat­ford, whose hus­band, Chris, had been shot dead be­side her.

Dr Kraiem told the Sun­day Mir­ror: “There were vic­tims ev­ery­where. They were in the front gar­den and the ho­tel re­cep­tion. I went to treat Gina.

“Her face was badly in­jured and her hus­band Chris had not sur­vived. She was hold­ing her hus­band and she wouldn’t let him go.”

To­day, the Im­pe­rial Marhaba re­mains closed and de­serted while Sousse it­self has been largely aban­doned by tourists.

The For­eign Of­fice still ad­vises against “all but es­sen­tial travel” to Tu­nisia.

A lone em­ployee throws sheets over lobby fur­ni­ture at the closed Im­pe­rial Marhaba ho­tel, where 38 tourists died, in­clud­ing 30 Bri­tons. The coun­try’s tourist in­dus­try is now in ru­ins

Aban­doned: the ho­tel’s swim­ming pool

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