Tuesday 6 December 2016

Irish mum among dozens gunned down in beach massacre

At least 39 killed at Tunisian resort as Islamic extremists carry out bloody attacks on three continents

Adam Cullen and Emma Jane Hade

Published 27/06/2015 | 02:30

Police officers surround a man suspected of being involved in the deadly attack on a resort in Sousse, Tunisia, in which Irishwoman Lorna Carty (inset) was killed
Police officers surround a man suspected of being involved in the deadly attack on a resort in Sousse, Tunisia, in which Irishwoman Lorna Carty (inset) was killed
Police officers surround a man suspected of being involved in the attack on a beachside hotel in Sousse, Tunisia
Tourists react at the Imperial hotel in the resort town of Sousse. Photo: Getty
In this screen grab taken from video provided by Tunisia TV1, injured people are treated on a Tunisian beach.

An Irish woman was among at least 39 people killed in an attack on a Tunisian holiday resort during a day of terror which spread across three continents.

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 Mother-of-two Lorna Carty died when a gunman pulled out a Kalashnikov hidden in a beach parasol and opened fire on sunbathers at the beach resort of Sousse.

Lorna Carty, from Co Meath, who was killed in the terrorist attack on Sousse, Tunisia, where she was on holiday
Lorna Carty, from Co Meath, who was killed in the terrorist attack on Sousse, Tunisia, where she was on holiday

The worst such attack in Tunisia's history came on the same day a man was found decapitated after an attack by suspected Islamic extremists on a French factory.

And a Shi'ite mosque in Kuwait was also bombed, killing at least 25 people.

Although the attacks do not appear to be directly linked, they come after the Isil extremist group called for their followers "to make Ramadan a month of calamities for the non-believers".

Mrs Carty, a 53-year-old nurse from Robinstown, Co Meath, was holidaying with her husband Declan when she was shot.

Read more: Irish tourists fly to Tunisia hours after attack

Bodies covered with blankets were strewn across the beach and medical staff used sun loungers as stretchers to carry away the dead and injured.

Tunisia map
Tunisia map

Friends said Mr Carty, who is recovering from heart surgery, was "absolutely devastated".

The holiday was believed to be a present for the couple, who have two children, to help with his recovery.

The close-knit communities of Robinstown and nearby Dunderry - where the couple's son Simon plays GAA - were reeling as news of the tragedy spread.

Friend Marie Dowd described Mrs Carty as one of the nicest people she had ever met.

Police officers surround a man (centre) suspected to be involved in an attack on a beachside hotel in Sousse, Tunisia. Photo: Reuters
Police officers surround a man (centre) suspected to be involved in an attack on a beachside hotel in Sousse, Tunisia. Photo: Reuters

"I just can't believe it," she said. "The whole community is in shock.

"When a tragedy like this happens, you always say nice things about the person but in Lorna's case, a few nice words are not enough.

Read more: Community in shock at death of 'beautiful woman' Lorna

"She was at the centre of everything in this community. She and Declan were heavily involved in the local GAA team. Lorna was always fundraising and helping out.

Tunisian medics carry a woman on a stretcher in the resort town of Sousse. Photo: Getty
Tunisian medics carry a woman on a stretcher in the resort town of Sousse. Photo: Getty

"She was an absolutely beautiful woman in every sense of the word. She was even beautiful at her job, she was a beautiful nurse who was so kind to her patients.

"My heart goes out to her family."

Foreign Affairs Minister Charles Flanagan last night said he could not rule out the possibility of more Irish victims being caught up in the attack and described it as a "black day".

The body of a tourist shot dead by a gunman lies near a beachside hotel in Sousse, Tunisia
The body of a tourist shot dead by a gunman lies near a beachside hotel in Sousse, Tunisia

"There are a number of Irish families in the immediate vicinity of the hotel and in nearby hotels and in the resort in Tunisia," he said.

"We have upgraded our travel advice, which is that anybody that is travelling to the region, we are asking that they exercise caution in doing so.

"We are urging people who may know of other Irish citizens in the area to contact the tour operators, or more particularly, our emergency helpline.

Read more: 'When I heard the machine gun, I just grabbed my sons and we ran'

"The situation is very volatile. We are urging people to exercise caution in travelling."

Officials were last night trying to get the final numbers on the amount of Irish people in the region.

About 180 holidaymakers fly to the capital of Tunis each week, with Sousse the second most popular resort for Irish holidaymakers.

And more than 100 Irish tourists decided yesterday to fly out on package holidays to Tunisia just hours after learning of the bloody massacre.

Some Irish people who were due to stay at the hotel where the mass killings took place declined an offer to be moved to another hotel and instead indicated they would check into the hotel - the Imperial Marhaba - when they arrive in Sousse.

But other Irish people refused to board the flight in Dublin last night after hearing the terrible news.

Read more: Day of bloodshed leaves more than 60 dead and stokes fears of jihadists

Witnesses said the gunman used a Kalashnikov to shoot the tourists sunbathing on the beach at the Riu Bellevue Park.

His killing spree only ended when he was shot dead by police. A bomb was found on his body.

Sunway Holidays, one of the main operators providing holidays to Tunisia, said it was working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs to ascertain how the situation was developing for its customers.

Some of the 180 passengers scheduled to depart from Dublin Airport on a 3.30pm flight yesterday decided to abort their holiday as the scale of the massacre became to emerge.

Martin Skelly, President of the ITAA, said travel agents and tour operators were working closely with officials to assist anyone currently in Tunisia, or with outstanding bookings.

Irish Independent

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