News by VICE

Tunisian Officials Detain Eight and Hunt Three Men Allegedly Involved in Sousse Massacre

Authorities have tightened security at tourist sites in an attempt to reassure visitors in the wake of the Tunisian beach resort attack.

by Pierre Longeray
Jul 2 2015, 8:03pm

Photo by Mohamed Messara/EPA

Tunisian authorities have detained eight suspects, including a woman, who are suspected of involvement in Friday's terrorist attack in the Tunisian beach resort of Sousse. Another four people who were also arrested have since been released, said Kamel Jendoubi, the government minister in charge of coordinating the response to the terror attack.

Authorities are also searching for two other men — Rafik al-Tayari and Mohammed al-Charadi — who are suspected of being linked to the attack in which 38 people were killed when gunman Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire on the Sousse beachfront. Officials confirmed Wednesday that 30 British toursist, as well as three Irish, two German, one Portuguese, one Belgian, and one Russian were killed in Friday's beach attack.

So far, little is known about the pair. Charadiis a 23-year-old student from Bizerte, andTayariis a 24-year-old business coordinator from Tunis, the capital. According to the Daily Mirror, a British tabloid, Tayari has been in contact with his parents several times in the last few days, telling them that he is safe and on his way to Italy via Libya.

"Everything is possible, but my son isn't capable of doing such things," Tayari's father reportedly told the tabloid. "I do not bring up criminals."

Tunisia's Interior Ministry is also searching for a 29-year-old terrorist named Chamseddine Sandi over suspected links to both the Sousse attack and the March 18 assault in which two men opened fire on the Bardo National Museum, killing 21 people, of whom 20 were foreign tourists. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for both attacks.

A security official revealed Tuesday that Sousse gunman Rezgui had received weapons training at a camp in neighboring Libya at the same time as the Bardo museum attackers. The camp is located near the coastal town of Sabratha, some 60 miles from the border with Tunisia.

Speaking to VICE News Thursday, French journalist and Tunisia expert David Thomson said that the camp where the three men trained had been established in the summer of 2013 by Tunisian jihadists.

"We don't know if the camp still exists," he said. "What is perhaps surprising is that the camp is located near Sabratha, which is not jihadist-controlled territory. But in a country like Libya, camps like these can blend in quite easily. Gone is the time of camps like [those] in Afghanistan, where 400 people were in training."

Authorities believe that the camp was started by Tunisians Abu Bakr al-Hakim and Ahmed Rouissi, who was killed in the Libyan city of Sirte in March 2015. Hakim and Rouissi are held responsible for the 2013 murders of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaïd and parliamentarian Mohamed Brahmi in Tunis.

In an interview published in IS's propaganda magazine Dabiq shortly after the Bardo attack in March, Hakim — who is also known as Abou Muqatil al-Tunisi — said that he and Rouissi had "established a training camp in Libya" to "train brothers over there and send brothers to Tunisia to carry out operations."

In the wake of the latest attack, Tunisian authorities have tightened security at tourist sites in an attempt to reassure visitors. Minister Jendoubisaidthat 1,377 extra armed security officers had been stationed at hotels and on beaches in Tunisia. On Tuesday, the National Union of Travel Agents reported that 80 percent of planned trips to Tunisia in the next month had been canceled.

Follow Pierre Longeray on Twitter: @PLongeray

Islamic State
Seifeddine Rezgui
camp d'entrainement
abu bakr al-hakim
ahmed rouissi
chamseddine sandi