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Tunisia travel alert: Thousands of Britons to fly home

The first of thousands of British tourists are due to return home from Tunisia after a warning that another terror attack is “highly likely”.

Thirty Britons were killed in an attack in Sousse last month – and the Foreign Office is urging Britons to leave.

Some tourists waiting to fly back to the UK said they felt disappointed – and afraid – after the warning, adding they saw no option but to leave.

Tunisia criticised the UK’s advice, saying it was “what terrorists want”.

Between 2,500 and 3,000 British package holidaymakers are believed to be in Tunisia, as well as about 500 independent travellers.

The Association of British Travel Agents said its members were aiming to bring customers home in the next 48 hours.

Michelle Ayres, from Suffolk, who is among those waiting to leave Sousse, said: “Everyone’s disappointed here – and I speak for many people… but obviously they haven’t got an option.

“We actually feel we’d be safer in the hotel than leaving it at the moment. We’re worried about getting to the airport. Everybody’s thinking ‘What’s going to happen? Is there a threat to us?’ and that’s why they’re getting us out.

“The people who came in two days ago had armed police chaperone their buses… We didn’t have that when we arrived here so something has obviously changed.”

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But Heidi Barlow, from Derbyshire, who arrived in Tunisia the day before the advice was issued, said: “I don’t want to leave. I appreciate that if we have to go, we have to go, but I am not worried by the advice… We have seen all the extra security here and we feel very secure.”

Security ‘chaos’

A gunman killed 38 holidaymakers in the 26 June beach attack, prompting Tunisia to declare a state of emergency and increased security at tourist sites.

The UK government said there was no new “specific or imminent” threat but intelligence had led officials to the view that a further terror attack was “highly likely”.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the Tunisian investigation into the Sousse attack – and an attack in March on the Bardo Museum near Tunis which left 22 dead, including one Briton – was continuing and Tunisian authorities had “made clear they want to track down further individuals who they suspect may have links” to the attacks.

He said a security assessment in tourist areas found more work was needed “to effectively protect tourists from the terrorist threat”.


BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said the gunman’s associates were believed to still be at large in Tunisia and, he said, were quite likely to be looking for targets.

He added that at the time of the attack some witnesses, including a former policeman, were convinced they saw a second attacker.

He said the UK’s decision was taken “reluctantly” but the intelligence of a threat was “overwhelming”.

But a former UK ambassador to Libya questioned why the Foreign Office was focusing on Tunisia when there had been other deadly attacks on the same day in Kuwait and France.

“Is it simply because 30 people got killed there two weeks ago? It’s not a good reason,” said Oliver Miles.

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Abta said those due to travel to Tunisia should contact the company they had booked through.

Travelling to the country now would be likely to invalidate travel insurance policies, though most policies would provide cover for those already in the country, it added.


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