Britain honours 30 killed in Tunisia

Spectators and staff at the Wimbledon tennis tournament observing a minute's silence yesterday in memory of the British victims of the June 26 Tunisia attack as Britain marked an official day of mourning.
Spectators and staff at the Wimbledon tennis tournament observing a minute's silence yesterday in memory of the British victims of the June 26 Tunisia attack as Britain marked an official day of mourning.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The 30 Britons were among 38 killed by Tunisian gunman in attack claimed by ISIS

LONDON • Millions of people across Britain yesterday held a minute's silence on an official day of mourning to pay tribute to 30 Britons killed a week ago by a gunman in Tunisia.

The killings marked the country's worst loss of lives in a militant attack in a decade.

The Britons were among 38 killed when Saif Rezgui opened fire on holidaymakers at a Sousse resort in the North African country.

Flags on government buildings, at UK embassies worldwide and at Buckingham Palace in London flew at half mast while across the country, millions of Britons, including Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister David Cameron, fell silent at midday in memory of those killed.

Organisers of the Wimbledon tennis tournament delayed the start of play and other sporting events including the British Grand Prix also marked the day. There was a ceremony outside Walsall football stadium in central England in tribute to three local men from the same family who died in the tragedy.

The killings were the worst-ever massacre in Tunisia, which fears massive damage to its tourism industry. The sector accounts for about 7 per cent of gross domestic product in a country already suffering from the upheaval that followed the 2011 overthrow of of dictator
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The moment of remembrance for the attack claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) came a day after the British government raised the possibility of extending air strikes against the militants.

Britain has launched an investigation into the killings and the police said they have so far taken 275 witness accounts and that more than 1,200 potential witnesses have returned to Britain.

The attack also came as Britain prepares to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the July 7, 2005 hits in which four suicide bombers killed 52 people on London's transport network.

In Tunisia, the British Embassy was to hold a memorial and to lay wreaths on the beach where the attack took place. A special ceremony was held at the scene of the killings on a sunny beach near Sousse, with dozens of officials and tourists in attendance as Tunisia stepped up security at its holiday resorts.

The killings are the worst-ever massacre in Tunisia, which fears massive damage to its tourism industry. The sector accounts for about 7 per cent of gross domestic product in a country already suffering from the upheaval that followed the 2011 overthrow of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

In the past four years, dozens of policemen and soldiers have been killed in clashes and ambushes attributed to Islamic militants. Disillusionment and social exclusion have fuelled radicalism among young Tunisians, with the country exporting some 3,000 fighters to Iraq, Syria and Libya.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2015, with the headline 'Britain honours 30 killed in Tunisia'. Print Edition | Subscribe