Tunisia hotel attack - live - Live coverage - The Independent

Tunisia hotel attack - live

    Welcome to The Independent's liveblog reporting on the shooting at a tourist beach in the Tunisian holiday destination of Sousse.
    6/26/2015 12:46:15 PM
    At least 27 people are reported by officials to have been killed in the shooting.

    Tunisia's interior ministry says two gunmen have opened fire on the beach between two hotels at the city of Sousse, and that one is still on the run.

    Security sources told the Reuters news agency that an exchange of gunfire had been reported at the scene, and that one gunman has been killed.
    6/26/2015 12:47:41 PM
    An official with the interior ministry said the death toll had risen to 27 and that it included foreign nationals. It was a dramatic increase from an earlier report of a handful of deaths.
    6/26/2015 12:47:49 PM
    Speaking to Sky News from the hotel, one British tourist travelling with his family said they had been told to remain inside and not to go down to the beach.

    He said he was on the beach and heard what "we thought was firecrackers going off" 100 yards away, followed by an explosion from the next hotel complex along.

    "There was a mass exodus off the beach," he told Sky News. He said his son said he had seen someone get shot on the beach.
    6/26/2015 12:48:01 PM
    Majid Nawaz, from the counter-extremism thinktank Quilliam, told Sky News that the attack appeared to be a "massacre" and was closely linked to the earlier attacks on France and Kuwait.

    He said they all came after repeated calls from Isis ideologues to mark the holy month of Ramadan with a series of high-profile attacks.

    On Thursday, Isis launched an offensive on the Syrian border city of Kobani, a symbolic target given its well-publicised failure to take the city earlier this year. At least 100 people were reported to have been killed.
    6/26/2015 12:51:14 PM
    6/26/2015 12:51:27 PM

    Kuwait mosque bombed during Ramadan Friday prayers just a couple of hours after France attack

    The IndependentIsis militants have claimed responsibility for a deadly bomb attack on a Shia mosque during Friday prayers in Kuwait, just a couple of hours after an attack on a factory in the south of France.
    6/26/2015 12:53:16 PM
    The attack comes only three months after three Islamist gunmen shot dead dozens of people at the Bardo museum in the country’s capital Tunis. The country’s tourist industry has been on high alert since the attack.

    Experts said the Sousse attack was more likely to be the work of Isis militants than any other terror group, though there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
    6/26/2015 12:53:36 PM
    Sousse sits on the Mediterranean Sea and is highly popular with British tourists, and is cited on holiday operator Thomson's list of prime destinations for Britons in Tunisia.

    Thomas Cook runs package holidays going direct London Gatwick to Hotel Imperial Mahaba, reported to be one of the two hotels involved in the shooting.

    In a statement, Thomas Cook said: "Thomas Cook has been advised of an incident that occurred earlier today in Sousse, Tunisia.

    "At this time, details are not clear as to which property(ies) have been affected, with conflicting news reports.

    "We are currently gathering information and will provide an update as soon as possible. Our teams on the ground are offering every support to our customers and their families in the area.

    "We will continue to monitor the situation, working closely with the FCO and local authorities."
    6/26/2015 12:56:09 PM
    Reports coming in now that the 27 victims are of six different nationalities.
    6/26/2015 12:56:50 PM
    The Foreign Office has set up a hotline for people in the UK concerned about relatives in Tunisia.

    It said they should call them on 0207 208 1500.
    6/26/2015 12:57:33 PM
    Local radio reports in Tunisia have said those killed were mostly tourists and mostly German and British.
    6/26/2015 12:58:08 PM
    Speaking to Channel 4 News, Gary Pine - who was on Sky News earlier - says at least 40 shots were fired on the beach.

    He said: "There was, I'd estimate, 30 or 40 shots at least that were fired," Mr Pine said. "As I, stupidly in hindsight, I went back down the beach to pick up my bags and you could hear bullets whizzing through the air... I was happy to get off that beach, as you’d imagine."
    6/26/2015 1:01:38 PM
    Just three days ago, Isis's spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani called for attacks to mark Ramadan, telling the group's followers to "make it a month of fire for the kuffar".
    6/26/2015 1:03:54 PM
    More gunfire "just a couple of minutes ago", two British sisters still inside the hotel are telling Sky News.
    6/26/2015 1:05:13 PM
    Sky News is reporting that a tourist flight heading from Brussels to Tunisia has been "turned around" in the wake of the hotel attack.

    More follows on that one.
    6/26/2015 1:18:27 PM

    6/26/2015 1:19:18 PM

    6/26/2015 1:25:22 PM
    British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond will chair a meeting of the UK emergency committee Cobra this afternoon, to discuss the attacks in Tunisia and France.
    6/26/2015 1:28:19 PM
    Calling the Cobra meeting, British Prime Minister David Cameron offered condolences and "our solidarity in fighting this evil of terrorism". 

    "The people who do these things, they sometimes claim to do it in the name of Islam," Cameron said. "They don't. Islam is a religion of peace.

    He said the attackers acted from "a twisted and perverted ideology we have to confront with everything we have". 
    6/26/2015 1:32:02 PM
    John Yeoman has been tweeting updates from inside his hotel in Tunisia since just after the shooting broke out, including a dramatic picture of the door to his room barricaded with furniture.

    Here's what he wrote:

    6/26/2015 1:48:09 PM

    6/26/2015 1:54:00 PM
    Terrible reports from France & Tunisia. Thoughts with victims of the atrocities & their families. Terrorism must never be allowed to prevail
    Absolutely horrifying news from #Tunisia. Thinking of those affected and families worried about loved ones
    My thoughts are with all those caught up in today's appalling attacks. I will chair COBRA in London at 4pm.
    A Foreign Office spokesperson has said:

    We are aware of the ongoing situation at a hotel resort in Sousse, Tunisia. We are urgently looking to establish further details and whether any British citizens are involved.

    6/26/2015 2:33:53 PM
    The Spanish company which owns the hotel in which 27 were killed and six were wounded has offered its condolences to the the victims and their families.

    RIU Hotels & Resorts has also said in a statement that it is in "permanent contact with authorities." 
    6/26/2015 2:45:15 PM
    Associated Press are reporting that Rafik Chelli, a top Tunisian security official, has told Mosaique FM that the gunman shot by security forces after attacking a Tunisian beach resort was unknown to authorities. 

    He said the man, from the city of Kairouan, came from the beach hiding his Kalashnikov under an umbrella before opening fire on the tourists. From there he entered the Hotel Imperial through the pool, shooting people as he went. 

    Many foreigners are believed to be among the victims including reports in the local media of British victims, but Chelli did not have an exact count of the nationalities. 
    6/26/2015 2:52:37 PM
    The Associated Press are reporting that Tunisian state television has raised the death toll from the beach attack in Sousse to 28 dead and 36 wounded.
    6/26/2015 3:07:17 PM
    The Irish Times are reporting that a woman in her 50s is one of the number killed in Tunisia. The woman from the Robinstown area of County Meath had been holidaying in Tunisia with her husband, who has made contact with the Irish consular authorities.
    6/26/2015 3:10:51 PM
    Among the dead are Britons, Tunisians, Germans and Belgians, according to the Health Ministry quoted on Tunisian state televison.
    6/26/2015 3:16:14 PM
    #Tunisia: Anyone affected or concerned about family and friends can contact the @foreignoffice helpline on 020 7008 0000.
    The Association of British Travel Agents has said its member tour operators were holding urgent discussions over whether to bring tourists home and cancel holidays.

    A spokeswoman told the Press Association: "There are decisions being made at the moment. Tour operators are in conversation with ourselves and the Foreign Office as we gather more information.

    "There are not going to be any snap decisions, but if anyone is due to travel today or tomorrow we would advise people to get in touch with their tour operator.

    "People travelling after that or have flights booked should wait to call their tour operator as the phone lines will be very busy, and the priority will be with people flying out today and tomorrow."

    6/26/2015 3:19:47 PM

    The foreign office has just updated its travel advice with regards to Tunisia, following the reported killings of British tourists in the beachside town of Sousse:

    The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:

    • the Chaambi Mountain National Park area
    • the Tunisia-Algeria border crossing points at Ghardimaou, Hazoua and Sakiet Sidi Youssef
    • the militarized zone south of, but not including, the towns of El Borma and Dhehiba
    • within 5km of the Libya border area from north of Dhehiba up to but not including the Ras Ajdir border crossing

    The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:

    • areas south of, and including, the towns of Nefta, Douz, Médenine, Zarzis (including the Tunisia-Libya border crossing point at Ras Ajdir)
    • within 30km of the border with Algeria south of, and including, the town of Jendouba (this area includes the archaeological sites of Bulla Regia and Chemtou)
    • the governorate of Kasserine, including the town of Sbeitla
    6/26/2015 3:33:07 PM
    I grieve the victims in #France, #Tunisia and #Kuwait. I condemn these barbaric attacks on freedom and stability.
    Latest from David Cameron on events in Tunisia:

    Let me comment briefly on the appalling events that have
    taken place in France and Tunisia, our hearts all go out to the victims of these appalling terrorist attacks.
    I’ve spoken to President Hollande at the European council and offered our sympathy and our solidarity with the French people at this time. I hope to speak later with the Tunisian government and again offer our sympathy, our condolences and our solidarity in fighting this evil of terrorism.

    This is a threat that faces all of us, these events which have taken place today in Tunisia and in France, they can happen anywhere, we all face this threat.

    There will be a ministerially chaired COBRA meeting, the government’s emergency committee, this afternoon to make sure we’re doing everything we can to cooperate and coordinate with other countries, and any information we have.

    We’ve got to do everything we can to help, that means coordinating on counterterrorism, building our capacity on counterterrorism, it means dealing with the threat at its source, whether that means Isis in Syria and Iraq or whether it is other, extremist groups around the world. And we have to deal, more than anything, with this poisonous, radical narrative that is turning so many young minds and we have to combat it with everything that we have.

    The people who do these things, they sometimes claim they do it in the name of Islam. They don’t. Islam is a religion of peace. They do it in the name of a twisted and perverted ideology that we have to confront with everything that we have and we will stop the poisoning of young minds in our country, in other European countries and around the world.

    6/26/2015 3:57:51 PM

    Update from Riu Hotels and resorts at 5pm EDT:

    While the Tunisian Authorities keep working in the area and guests are Being taken care of, the information about the attack at the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel is still limited. 

    When the attack occurred, the occupancy rate at the hotel was 77% With 565 guests at the moment of the attack. The majority of the guests are from the UK and other Central European Countries. However, it is not possible at the moment to confirm the nationalities or any other details of the victims.

    6/26/2015 4:07:57 PM
    Reports attacker was posing as swimmer and hid assault rifle beneath sun umbrella #Tunisia
    Beach gunman who killed at least 28 tourists was acting alone, according to interior ministry in #Tunisia
    Witness reports have been emerging from the shootings this afternoon at a Tunisian beachside hotel in Sousse.

    Former British tour tennis player described the moment to the Press Association in which she saw a gunman open fire during the shootings.

    Ellie Makin, 22, said the gunman used an umbrella to hide his gun until he was in amongst the tourists on the beach.

    She flew to Tunisia on Wednesday where she is staying in the Bellevue Park hotel.

    She said: "I was on the beach in front of our resort when I saw a guy walking around with an umbrella.

    "All of a sudden he dropped the umbrella and had a gun, and he started shooting everyone to the right of me.

    "He was to the right of me. I got up and just happened to look right and I saw the gun and the umbrella being dropped and then he started firing to the right. "If he had fired to the left I don't know what would have happened. We're quite lucky."

    She added: "There was screaming and people were running left, right and centre and scarpering.

    "Then we ran into our hotel reception and we got told to move by hotel staff.

    "The gunman was medium height, with black hair, top and black khaki trousers or shorts.

    "I saw a guy get shot in the stomach and then another in the head. There was blood everywhere.

    "I was terrified, overwhelmed, shaken up and shocked. There are no words.

    "There have been people missing from our resort and others. It could have been a very different story if he had started shooting left instead of right."

    28 have been confirmed as killed so far.
    6/26/2015 5:06:02 PM
    Another man told BBC News that he had been hit by a bullet in the arm.

    The man, who was not named, appeared to be speaking from a hospital.

    "Someone firing a gun, and then I looked at my wife and she got up and ran, and as I turned a bullet just hit me in my arm, and I just ran to the sea," he said.
    6/26/2015 5:08:30 PM
    The Associated Press have reported that the Tunisian Health Minister has said on local radio that the death toll in beach attack has risen to 37, with 36 wounded.
    6/26/2015 5:12:07 PM
    A Welsh tourist was shot three after using his body as a human shield, his fiancee has told BBC news

    Saera Wilson said gas engineer Matthew James, 30, from Trehafod, near Pontypridd, was trying to protect her when the gunmen opened fire.

    Ms Wilson, 26, said Mr James, known as Sas, was hit in the shoulder, chest and hip.

    He took a bullet for me. I owe him my life because he threw himself in front of me when the shooting started.
    He was covered in blood from the shots, but he just told me to run away.
    It was the bravest thing I've ever known. But I just had to leave him under the sunbed because the shooting just kept on coming.
    You just can't explain how terrible it was. It was chaos with screaming and gunshots.

    She spoke from the hospital where Matthew is alive and being treated for his wounds.
    6/26/2015 5:51:24 PM
    #UNSG Ban Ki-moon condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks in #Tunisia, #Kuwait and #France today. bit.ly/1GxNdYl

    Statement from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

    The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France today. 

    Those responsible for these appalling acts of violence must be swiftly brought to justice.

    The Secretary-General affirms that, far from weakening the international community’s resolve to fight the scourge of terrorism, these heinous attacks will only strengthen the commitment of the United Nations to help defeat those bent on murder, destruction and the annihilation of human development and culture. 

    The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the families of those killed and injured in today’s attacks and expresses his solidarity with the peoples and Governments of Tunisia, Kuwait and France.

    6/26/2015 6:00:24 PM
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