Monday, 05 June 2023 04:11 GMT

Fight against IS struggle of our generation, says premier

(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday declared the fight against Islamic State the "struggle of our generation" as more names of British victims of the Tunisian terror atrocity emerged.

The death toll of the beach massacre was expected to reach 30 yesterday as police named Stuart Cullen, 52, from Suffolk, as one of those killed in the attack.

Relatives of missing London couple John and Janet Stocker, 74 and 63, told how they feared the worst after frantically ringing around hospitals in Tunisia for news. The pair from Morden, south London, were described as a "lovely couple" who went away at least twice a year.

Son Lee Stocker, 36, told the Standard: "It's an incredibly difficult time because we still don't know what's happened. Getting any information is very difficult and slow."

Cameron spoke yesterday as further dramatic footage emerged of 23-year-old gunman Seifeddine Rezgui brandishing his AK47 assault rifle and roaming the grounds of the Imperial Maharba Hotel and the beach in front of it searching for victims.

The film reveals the bravery of many hotel workers and locals as they try to follow Rezgui and shout for someone to catch him. A total of 38 people were killed when he opened fire at the beach in the Sousse resort on Friday, the biggest loss of British life in a terrorist outrage since the London transport bombings in 2005.

Cameron said Home Secretary Theresa May travelled to Tunisia yesterday for talks on how to address the extremist threat.

The Foreign Office has already confirmed that 15 of the dead are from Britain but further names of victims were emerging yesterday. Three Irish nationals are also among the dead. At least a dozen Britons are still unaccounted for because of difficulties in identifying victims who were not carrying ID on the beach.

Scotland Yard has launched its biggest ever anti-terror operation since the 7/7 attacks. More than 600 officers have been deployed to investigate and help families hit by the atrocity, including about 16 counter terrorism and specialist forensic officers who have been sent to Tunisia to help the investigation and identify victims.

Assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, national policing lead for counter-terrorism, urged Londoners to be vigilant and warned that counter terror officers were conducting "live operations" to target people "who have an aspiration to move to attacks."

Security at Wimbledon was yesterday at its "highest ever" as the tournament's organisers reacted to the attack.

Police, soldiers and emergency services will also take part in the biggest ever exercise of its kind in London today to rehearse the response to "marauding attacks" such as those in Tunisia and the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris.

Cameron said the government is working "as fast as we can" to give families information. "I know it has taken time but these are very difficult things and we must get them right," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Speaking before chairing a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, the premier said: "We faced the "struggle of our generation" and "we have to fight it with everything we can".

Cameron said the government was ready to repatriate victims' bodies if requested by their families.

Families of survivors and victims spoke of the courage of their loved ones but there also some criticism of the Foreign Office for failing to keep them in touch with events.

The brother of Allison Heathcote, 48, from Suffolk, who was shot twice in the beach massacre and remains critically ill, told of his pride at her courage but said the family are still desperately waiting for further news. Her husband, Philip Heathcote, originally from Manchester, is missing.

Victims of the atrocity include three generations of the same Midlands family - Patrick Evans, believed to be 78, his son Adrian, 44, and his 19-year-old grandson Joel Richards. Joel's brother Owen, 16, survived the attack.

Severn Trent Water employees Sue Davey and Scott Chalkley were killed while on holiday together.

Davey - whose daughter is the partner of Leicester City footballer Marc Albrighton - was confirmed as being among the dead by her son Conor Fulford. Others included Lisa Burbidge, from Gateshead, and Trudy Jones, of Gwent, south Wales.

Fashion blogger Carly Lovett, 24, from Lincolnshire and grandfather Bruce Wilkinson, 72, believed to have been a retired power station worker, from East Yorkshire, were also killed.

Engineer Stephen Mellor from Bodmin in Cornwall was killed as he shielded his wife Cheryl on the beach, she told the Mirror.

While Tunisian authorities mounted a huge security operation to protect holidaymakers there was increasing evidence that Rezgui had not acted alone.

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