Tunisian interior ministry: Hotel didn't alert police immediately

2015-06-29 18:54
Items lie scattered along the beach after the attack, (AFP)

Items lie scattered along the beach after the attack, (AFP)

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Tunis - The Tunisian Interior Ministry said that security staff at the beach hotel where a gunman killed 38 people on Friday in Sousse failed to immediately alert police, local radio station Mosaique FM reported on Sunday.

The station quoted Interior Minister Mohamed Najem Gharsalli as saying that the attacker could have been "eliminated" earlier, if there had been better co-ordination between the Riu Imperial Marhaba hotel's security staff and security forces.

The lone gunman opened fire on tourists on Friday at the hotel's crowded beach, killing 38 people before security forces arrived at the scene and shot him dead. 

The Islamic State extremist militia said it was responsible for the attack. Authorities identified the gunman as Seifeddin Rezgui, a 24-year-old from northern Siliana province.

The jihadist group claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack the same day that killed 27 worshippers at a Shi'ite mosque in Kuwait city. On Friday, a French man also beheaded his employer and attacked a gas plant.

The victims identified so far from the Sousse attack included 14 British citizens, said Nofal al-Samrani, director of emergency medicine in the Tunisian Health Ministry.

A Belgian, a German, an Irish man and a Portuguese man had also been identified, he said.

The British government has said that at least 15 of its citizens died in the attack. Britain's Press Association quoted unnamed sources as saying the number of British dead was likely to rise to 30.

Irish Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan said that three Irish citizens were killed.

"We are in contact with the foreign embassies, and we have asked for digital fingerprints to definitively identify the remaining persons," al-Samrani told dpa.

Tunisian Tourism Minister Salma Elloumi told Shems FM radio that Britain, France and Germany had agreed not to ban their citizens from travelling to Tunisia,  but had asked to participate in investigations into the massacre.

"They requested full transparency about the security measures that will be taken," she said.

Gharsalli said the Interior Ministry was ready to deploy a new, 1 000-member "armed tourism police" to secure the sector's establishments, in line with plans announced on Saturday by Prime Minister Habib Essid.

'I did not raise my son to kill people'

In an interview on Germany's ARD television, Rezgui's father expressed revulsion over the slaughter.

"God only knows what led my son to this act. I did not raise my son to kill people," said the father, in the northern Tunisian city of Gaafour.

He said he had seen pictures of the dead and could not understand why his son would kill innocent victims. The father said he had seen no signs of extremist inclinations in Rezgui before the shooting.

"Some people must have indoctrinated my son to make him do that," he said.

Pope Francis expressed his sorrow over Friday's attacks in messages to local representatives of the Catholic Church, Vatican Radio reported. In his messages, the pope once again condemned acts of violence that generate so much suffering, the broadcaster said.

The Sousse atrocity has shocked Tunisia and raised fears for its tourist industry, which accounts for 15% of gross domestic product.

The shooting spree is the deadliest terrorist incident in Tunisian history. An attack in March on the capital's Bardo museum killed 21 tourists and a police officer.

The government has reacted by ordering the closure of 80 mosques accused of instigating extremism.

Essid said that Tunisia's remote western mountains where jihadist groups operate would be declared closed military zones to facilitate search operations by security forces.

Jihadist groups have repeatedly attacked Tunisian security forces since the overthrow of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.

Read more on:    tunisia  |  tunisia attack

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