A year on, Tunisian terror resort lies empty
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