Security increased in Tunisia in wake of deadly attack

Security increased in Tunisia in wake of deadly attack
Armed police have been deployed to tourist sites after criticism that hotels and other tourist hotspots were not protected sufficiently.
2 min read
01 July, 2015
Tourist police are now to be allowed to carry guns [Getty]

Tunisia said it started deploying armed police around tourist sites on Wednesday after last week's massacre at a beach resort, as authorities finished identifying all 38 people killed in the militant attack.

Britain said it was transporting home eight bodies of its nationals killed in the assault, with Tunisia's health ministry confirming that 30 Britons were among the dead.

On Friday, a student identified as 23-year-old Seifeddine Rezgui went on a bloody rampage in Port El Kantaoui, shooting 38 foreign tourists with a Kalashnikov assault rifle at the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba hotel in the popular resort.

It was the second attack on tourists in Tunisia claimed by the Islamic State group (IS, formerly ISIS) in just three months, after IS claimed a March attack on the National Bardo Museum 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.

Security officials "are busy deploying at Hammamet," a seaside resort in the south of Tunis, he added.

But at the site of the ancient city of Carthage outside Tunis on Wednesday morning, AFP correspondents saw no police at the Antonine Baths and just one guard at the Carthage Museum.

At the upmarket seaside resort of Gammarth, home to five hotels, security guards said they were aware of plans for a new deployment, but said no one had yet arrived.

President Beji Caid Essebsi said Tuesday that security had been boosted in other areas for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

But authorities had not expected beaches to be targeted, he told French radio.

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 within minutes.