UK hails Tunis 'hard work' on security after terror attacks

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Tunis - Britain on Thursday applauded Tunisia's "patient hard work" to boost security following the 2015 jihadist attacks that killed dozens of tourists, including 30 Britons at a beach resort.

"We know that these days there can never be a situation when there is no risk at all but we are being very pleased to advise our citizens that returning to Tunis, returning to the resort areas, is something that we would like them to do," said Britain's junior foreign minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, on a visit to Tunis.

Gunman Seifeddine Rezgui killed 38 people, including 30 British tourists and three Irish citizens, in a shooting spree in June 2015 at the Riu Imperial Marhaba hotel on Tunisia's Mediterranean coast in Sousse.

The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group.

"The United Kingdom is very conscious that following the tragic events of 2015, the change in the nature of our travel advice, which was necessary to protect all our citizens, has had a significant impact," he said.

"The reason our travel advice has been changed is because of the patient hard work done by the Tunisian government and the security services to respond to the needs of those who visit this country for tourism or any other purpose."

Burt told a news conference: "Hard work has been done in terms of aviation security, maritime security, response to terrorist attack, and the United Kingdom has worked in partnership with security officials here."

Britain's advisory against travel to Tunisia was lifted last week, although it continues to caution its nationals against visits to remote areas and near the borders with Libya and Algeria.

A British inquest criticised the Tunisian police response to the massacre as "at best shambolic, at worst cowardly".

Tunisia's economy is heavily dependent on tourism and authorities had repeatedly asked for the British travel advisory to be lifted.

Before the beach attack, more than 400 000 British tourists visited Tunisia annually. But last year just 20 000 British visitors were recorded, official Tunisian figures show.

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