In his first public statement since the terrorist attack in the seaside resort of Sousse in Tunisia, which killed 30 British tourists and injured many more, Prime Minister David Cameron said his government was preparing a “full spectrum” response to the massacre. The Islamic State (IS) group represents an “existential threat”, he said on Monday, and the fight against it is “the struggle of this generation.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the Prime Minister said Islamic terrorists “have declared war on Britain and they are attacking our people at home and overseas.”
We are a target,” he said. “You cannot hide from this thinking, if you step back you become less of a target. They are attacking our way of life and what we stand for, and so we have to stand united with those that share our values.”
Home Secretary Theresa May is in Tunisia to pay homage to those killed in the attack.Further attacks
The Foreign Office has warned of further attacks in Tunisia, and has issued warnings to persons travelling to Tunisia to be “especially vigilant.” According to a statement by the Met police, they have launched the largest counter-terrorism deployments since the 2005 bombings. Britain has already sent 16 police detectives, forensic science specialists and family liaison officers to Tunisia with more to join them in the investigation.
As the toll of British lives lost in the massacre has mounted — from 15 in initial reports to 30 and counting now — the issue being examined is whether this attack by 23-year old Seifeddine Rezgui, a Tunisian engineering student acting in the name of IS, was intended to specifically target British tourists. In an interview on Sunday to the Andrew Marr show on BBC, Ms. May had denied this reading of the Tunisia events, but now it appears more likely, given that at least 30 of the 38 of those dead are British.
The British media in the last two days has been replete with stories of the massacre from tourists who have either returned or from families of the victims at home. The lone gunner, dressed in black and shooting from an automatic, caught sunbathers unaware. Most of them had no identification papers, like purses or passports with them, thus making their identification of badly disfigured bodies difficult. The survivor accounts are horrific and poignant, like that of a young survivor who saw three of his family representing three generations killed before his eyes.