Saturday 22 October 2016

Irish holidaymakers on alert as Isil plans more beach massacres

Published 21/04/2016 | 02:30

Larry and Martina Hayes
Larry and Martina Hayes

Isil is planning to massacre more Western tourists at some of Europe's most popular beaches this summer, according to Italian intelligence reports.

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The militant network has "concrete plans" for terrorists to pose as refugees selling ice cream, drinks, souvenirs and T-shirts at popular tourist hotspots in the south of France, Italy and Spain, according to sources cited in German newspaper 'Bild'.

It claims terrorists from the Boko Haram group in Nigeria are intent on carrying out attacks at popular beach resorts, such as the massacre of 38 people at the Tunisian resort of Sousse last June which killed three Irish holidaymakers.

Athlone couple Larry and Martina Hayes, along with Lorna Carty from Co Meath, were among the victims - 30 of whom were British holidaymakers.

They were gunned down by Islamic State terrorist Seifeddine Rezgui, who fired at holidaymakers using a Kalashnikov semi-automatic rifle hidden in a beach umbrella at the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel resort.

According to the report, members of the terror group and sympathisers from Africa who regularly travel to Europe will be called to take part in the terror campaign.

The warning comes from a tip-off from Italian intelligence from what the newspaper described as a "credible source" in Africa.

The sickening plot involves terrorists blasting holidaymakers with high-powered automatic weapons at crowded beaches and waterfronts.

The plans also involve suicide bombings and detonating explosive devices that have been buried in the sand between sun loungers.

Seck Pouye, police chief of the Senegalese town of Saly, told a reporter: "These people travel regularly to Italy and other places with visas and documents.

"They are not illegal, because they are viewed as business people and traders. That is what makes them so dangerous."

Pat Dawson, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents' Association, said the threat of terrorist attacks has already had an impact on the European holiday market, and is increasing demand in southern European destinations.

Rather than seeing a decrease in bookings from holidaymakers, popular resorts in southern Europe are now filling up fast due to increased demand from Russians and northern Europeans, like Germans and Scandinavians, who would normally spend their summer holidays in Turkey or Egypt.

But following the high level of terrorist threats in those countries, they are booking out resorts in France, Spain and Italy this year instead.

As a result, Irish tour operators are having a hard time finding reasonably-priced holiday packages because prices have shot up, he told the Irish Independent.

"The problem our agents have is getting the right booking at a reasonable price," he said.

He added that Irish bookings for summer package holidays are actually up by 12-14pc compared to last summer.

"We have had no reports of people wanting to cancel their bookings. The opposite is happening, and people are scrambling to get bookings," he added.

Irish Independent

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