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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 25 April, 2019
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An Irish woman is among the dead in the Tunisian resort terror attack

At least 39 people have died, with 36 injured. One gunman is reported to have been killed while a second remains at large.

Updated 11.32 pm

AN IRISH WOMAN has been killed in this afternoon’s terrorist attack in Tunisia.

The woman’s husband, who was not with her at the time of the attack, has been in touch with the department of foreign affair’s dedicated consul support, according to local Meath TD Ray Butler’s constituency office.

The woman, from Robinstown, county Meath, has been named locally as Lorna Carty.

A nurse and mother of two, she is involved with Dunderry GAA club and her family is well known in the area. Her son, Simon, is currently a member of the Meath Senior Football panel and played as a corner back with the county’s Under 21 team.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan confirmed her death this evening, offering his “heartfelt condolences” to the family and loved ones.

The Minister also said he could not exclude further Irish injuries or fatalities at this early stage.

“Our focus is on establishing whether any other citizens have been killed or injured,” he continued in a statement.

He also advised that anyone travelling to Tunisia should exercise extreme caution, an upgrade on the travel advice previously issued for the country.

Updating their travel advice this evening, the Department of Foreign Affairs have advised Irish tourist to exercise “extreme caution”.

Specifically, it advises against travel to:

  • the Chaambi Mountain National Park area
  • the crossing points on the Algerian border at Ghardimaou, Hazoua and Sakiet Sidi Youssef.
  • the militarized zone south of, but not including, the towns of El Borma and Dhehiba
  • within 5km of the Libya border area from north of Dhehiba up to but not including the Ras Ajdir border crossing.

It also advises against all but essential travel to Tunisia’s Greater South including the areas bordering Libya and Algeria, specifically:

  • areas south of, and including, the towns of Nefta, Douz, Médenine, Zarzis (including the Tunisia-Libya border crossing point at Ras Ajdir)
  • within 30km of the border with Algeria south of, and including, the town of Jendouba
  • the governorate of Kasserine, including the town of Sbeitla

Today’s attack happened at two hotels, one believed to be the Imperial Marhaba hotel, in the town of Sousse, about 140km south of Tunis.

Sousse is one of Tunisia’s most popular resorts with European tourists.

The death toll rose to 39 Friday night, according to Tunisia’s Health Ministry, with 36 injured according to Tunisian national television.

Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui told national television the shooting in Sousse was a “terrorist attack”.

He said that one assailant was killed.

Late on Friday night, the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, formally claimed responsibility for the massacre in a statement, according to AFP.

The police operation to catch a second gunman behind the attack on the beach resort is ongoing and the exchange of fire is continuing according to Ali Aroui.

Secretary of State for Security Rafik Chelly told Mosaique FM the gunman was a Tunisian student unknown to authorities.

“He entered by the beach, dressed like someone who was going to swim, and he had a beach umbrella with his gun in it. Then when he came to the beach he used his weapon,” Chelly said.

Witnesses described scenes of panic and confusion after the shooting broke out in the town, about 140 kilometres (87 miles) south of Tunis.

sousse Sousse, Tunisia Source: Google Maps

Irish man Tomá Ó Ríordáin spoke to Raidió na Gaeltachta from Tunisia, where he is holidaying with his wife and three daughters.

They were by the pool at their hotel at the time of the attack, very nearby.

“We heard something like shots, but we thought it was a jetski backfiring or something.  We heard 10 or 15 shots in very quick succession.  Then everyone started running in from the beach towards the hotel and we understood that something was happening.”

He said that others from the hotel were playing volleyball very near to where the gunman was.

They told us that the attacker came down the street, and directly into the hotel. He was dressed all in black, and came in firing all about him. We didn’t see anything, but we heard everything. It was all over 3 or 4 minutes after it started.
“We were worried about my two daughters, Claire and Siobhán, who were at the beach but we just had to wait and see if they came back. When they returned, we went straight up to the room and closed the windows and the curtains, because they thought at that time that there was a second attacker with a gun so we didn’t know if there was another attacker on the loose. There wasn’t in the end, there was a second man waiting in a getaway car, and he was arrested.”

There are reported to be at least 60 Irish tourists in Sousse at present.

The DFA has since issued an ‘Urgent Travel Alert’ following the shooting.

Ireland does not have a Tunisian embassy.

Irish tours to Tunisia are currently operated by operators Sunway Holidays and Sunshine Holidays.

A spokesman for Sunshine Holidays told TheJournal.ie that they currently have 30 Irish tourists in Sousse, and that most of them are due to come home this evening.

Sunway Holidays have released an official statement:

“In relation to the incident in Tunisia earlier today, Sunway Holidays is working in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs and relevant parties.”

Our primary concern is our customers in the resort and we are monitoring the situation closely.
Further updates when information becomes available.

TheJournal.ie has spoken to Irish tourists at Dublin airport who were due to fly to Tunisia this evening.

They said that they had been offered a refund by their tour operator and were feeling “shaken” by the incident.

Local radio in Sousse has said that the victims of the attack are mostly German and British.

Dublin tourist Elizabeth O’Brien is currently on holiday with her two sons in the town.

“I thought it was fireworks, but then we saw people running towards us, and then I thought it might be gunfire,” she told the RTE News at One.

Then the waiters and security guards on the beach started shouting “Run, run,” so we started running to our bungalow on the beach.
We are the only Irish family though, and no-one spoke English so it was so hard to get across what was happening.
The Madrid consul called me and said there’s a terrorist attack at the hote next door (the Imperial Marhaba) – she told me to stay put.
Our travel agent told us to go to reception but I’m afraid to do so.
Our travel agent said it’s isolated to one hotel.
There’s an air of panic around the hotel. I don’t think people realize quite how scary it was.

British woman Moya McCullagh says her son Darren, who is on holiday in the resort with his girlfriend, saw ‘bodies everywhere’.

“He said ‘it was like fireworks going off and we turned around and thought it was a suicide bomber’,” she told Sky News.

He phoned me on another phone to tell me he was in the hotel, it was a terrorist attack.
He was escorted back to the beach by police to get my phone and there were bodies everywhere.

Tunisia has been on high terror alert since March when terrorists killed 22 people at a museum in the capital Tunis.

Even before the latest attack, Tunisia’s tourism industry had been bracing for a heavy blow from the museum shooting.

The tourism sector, which accounts for seven percent of Tunisia’s GDP and almost 400,000 direct and indirect jobs, had already been rattled by political instability and rising Islamist violence.

With AFP and Associated Press

Read: Man decapitated as attacker carrying Islamist flag targets French gas factory

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