Tunisian resort popular with Irish holiday-makers is under attack

A shocking terrorism attack has taken place at a Tunisian resort popular with Irish visitors. Several fatalities are now being reported by local media.

A pair of gunmen shot dead at least 27 people in the attack, which was aimed at two of the busiest tourist hotels in Sousse in north-eastern Tunisia.

The town is extremely popular with Irish tourists, with the likes of Sunway.ie frequently offering package holidays to the area.

Many tourists were on the beach at the time and ran to take refuge in their hotel rooms once they heard gun shots.

RTE Radio spoke to Dublin woman Elizabeth O’Brien, who is currently holidaying in the region with her two sons.

She told RTE listeners how she was forced to grab her children and run when she heard gunfire: “We were on the beach, my sons were in the sea and I just got out of the sea. It was about 12 o’clock and I just looked up about 500metres from me and I saw a (hot air) balloon collapse down, then rapid firing, then I saw two of the people who were going to go up in the balloon start to run towards me — because I thought it was fireworks.

“So, I thought ‘oh my God, it sounds like gunfire’, so I just ran to the sea to my children and grabbed our things and as I was running towards the hotel, the waiters and the security on the beach started saying ‘run, run run!’ and we just ran to our room, which is like a little bungalow.

“So we are actually trapped in our room.”

Another man, John Yeoman from Britain, has been tweeting his fear and astonishment at what unfolded around him.

"There has been a shooting on the beach at our hotel it's been going on for 20 mins," he said a little after noon today. He later added: "We were in the pool when we heard automatic gun fire. People ran past saying there was an armed man on the beach." 

He was forced to barricade himself into his hotel room using a bed and other furniture, and shared an image of his efforts online.

A terrorist attack took place on March 18 of this year at the famed Bardo National Museum in central Tunis. Some 24 people were killed in that attack – including four Italian tourists, three French and one Briton. Many others were injured.

The Department of Foreign Affairs does not recommend that Irish tourists should avoid the country entirely, but it says that caution is needed.

Indeed, the dfa.ie website warns: “The presence of extremist elements in Tunisia, as well as instability in neighbouring Libya, mean that there is a heightened threat of terrorism in Tunisia.”

It adds: “Irish citizens should maintain a high level of security awareness, monitor the local media closely and follow the instructions of the Tunisian authorities and tour operators.”

There is no Irish embassy in Tunisia, but there is an honorary consul.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has furthermore said that Irish people concerned for family members in Sousse can call 01 408 2000.

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