Tuesday 16 January 2018

Tunisia terror attack: Eight held in connection with deadly beach hotel attack

Victims of the Tunisian beach massacre, Martina and Laurence Hayes
Victims of the Tunisian beach massacre, Martina and Laurence Hayes
Lorna Carty, who was shot dead on holiday in Tunisia
There will be no Irish tourists travelling from Dublin to Tunisia for the remainder of the summer

Mark O'Regan & Independent.ie Newsdesk

Eight people are in custody on suspicion of direct links to a deadly attack on a Tunisian beach resort, while police have released four others detained earlier in the investigation

Thirty-eight foreigners, including three Irish national, were killed in Friday's attack before the gunman was shot by police.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Friday's attack, in which Tunisian student Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire on a beach in the resort of Sousse. The attacker was later killed by police.

Government minister Kamel Jendoubi told reporters in Tunis that 12 people in total were detained since the attack, but four have been released.

The other eight - seven men and one woman - remain in custody and are suspected of direct links to the attack, he said.

He did not elaborate on the identities of the suspects or their roles, saying only that the investigation "has allowed us to discover the network behind the operation in Sousse".

He also urged greater international terrorism cooperation in a "war ... between democratic Tunisia and an international jihadi movement".

More Tunisians - about 3,000 - are believed to have gone to Syria and Iraq to join radical jihadis including the Islamic State group than fighters from any other country.

A top security official said that the student had trained in a jihadi camp in Libya at the same time as the two men who attacked a leading Tunisian museum in March.

That enforced the notion of a link between the two assaults and raised fears of more attacks on this North African nation's budding democracy.

Meanwhile, the remains of the three Irish tourists shot dead in last Friday's terrorist attack on a Tunisian beach have been flown back to Ireland.

The remains of married couple Martina and Laurence Hayes, and of mum-of-two Lorna Carty arrived at Dublin Airport in the early hours of this morning.

Martina and Laurence Hayes, from Westlodge, Athlone, will repose at Flynn's Funeral Home, The Strand, from 2pm today, before their removal to the Church of St Peter and Paul.

A Requiem Mass will be held at 11am tomorrow, followed by burial afterwards in Coosan Cemetery. The couple are survived by their only daughter, Sinead.

Funeral arrangements are being made for Ms Carty. The mother-of-two was on holidays with her husband Declan in the popular beach resort of Sousse when she was killed.

Meanwhile, there will be no Irish tourists travelling from Dublin to Tunisia for the remainder of the summer after two operators suspended all flights to the country.

Sunway Holidays has suspended its weekly flight schedule to Monastir from tomorrow. In a statement, the company said weekly flights to Monastir have been suspended until the situation in Tunisia has been "clarified". However, tomorrow's return flight from Monastir to Dublin will go ahead as scheduled.

Customers who have booked a trip with the company to Tunisia are being offered an alternative holiday or a full refund.

The company said if the cost of the new holiday is higher than the amount originally paid, the additional cost will be incurred by the customer. If the price is lower, Sunway will refund the difference.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Martin Skelly, president of the Irish Travel Agents Association, said tour operator Just Sunshine has also suspended services to the country from tomorrow.

"Sunway and Just Sunshine shared aircraft. While those that travelled to Tunisia last weekend will be brought home, they won't be bringing out any new holidaymakers from Ireland.

"The companies want to see how the security situation develops, but it's also a commercial decision. It seems more people have cancelled their holidays since the attack than have decided to travel.

"It's hard to imagine the companies will reinstate the flights this summer. Consequently, there will be zero Irish holidaymakers travelling to the country this summer on direct services from Ireland."

In March, two gunmen killed 21 people at the Tunis Bardo museum, before they were also shot.

Irish Independent

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