Tunisia begins security drive after beach massacre
Tunisia said it started deploying armed police around tourist sites today after last week's massacre at a beach resort, as authorities finished identifying all 38 foreigners killed in the jihadist attack.
Tunis: Tunisia said it started deploying armed police around tourist sites today after last week's massacre at a beach resort, as authorities finished identifying all 38 foreigners killed in the jihadist attack.
A British military plane carrying home eight bodies of its nationals killed in the assault arrived in Britain, as Tunisia's health ministry confirmed that 30 Britons were among the dead.
While armed police were deployed to guard the beach at Port El Kantaoui where the attack took place, no new officers could be seen at key sites around Tunis including the Carthage Museum, AFP journalists said.
On Friday, 23-year-old Seifeddine Rezgui went on a bloody rampage in the popular Port El Kantaoui resort, shooting dead 38 foreign tourists with a Kalashnikov assault rifle at the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba hotel.
It was the second attack on tourists in Tunisia claimed by the Islamic State group in just three months, after IS said it was behind a March attack on the National Bardo Museum in Tunis that killed 22 people.
In its wake, Tunisian authorities vowed new heightened security measures, including 1,000 armed officers to reinforce tourism police -- who will be armed for the first time -- at hotels, beaches and other attractions.
"This morning, we started to deploy and armed police will be in hotels within the hour," interior ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui told AFP.
Wearing T-shirts marked "Tourism police", armed officers on quadbikes patrolled the beach of the Imperial hotel, as well as other sites nearby, AFP journalists said.
But at the site of the ancient city of Carthage, the beaches at Gammarth and the stunning Sidi Bou Said neighbourhood outside Tunis, no new deployment could be seen all day, nor had security been boosted around Tunis International Airport.
Asked about this absence, Aroui refused to comment.
Several witnesses said the beach attack lasted more than 30 minutes before the gunman was shot dead, but officials say police were on the scene much sooner.
President Beji Caid Essebsi told French radio authorities that Tunis had not expected beaches to be targeted.
The health ministry said today it had identified all 38 victims, most of them Britons.
The bodies of eight Britons were flown today to a Royal Air Force station north of London, in a solemn ceremony reminiscent of the repatriation of fallen soldiers.
The bodies arrived at RAF Brize Norton northwest of London, where white-gloved pall-bearers in Royal Air Force uniforms linked arms to carry each coffin to a hearse waiting near the runway.