3 000 Britons told to leave Tunisia
London - British tourists in Tunisia have been advised to leave the country amid fears of a fresh terror attack following the atrocity in Sousse on 26 June.
The Foreign Office warned last month against all but essential travel following intelligence that a terrorist attack was “highly likely”. The new warning now places Tunisia in the same category as Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.
Before the warning was issued, tour operators were already arranging extra flights to ensure holidaymakers can leave. The main tour operators - Thomas Cook, Cosmos and Jet2 - are sending aircraft to the North African nation to bring back the 3,000 British people who are there on package holidays.
In addition, Thomson - 30 of whose customers were killed on the beach in Sousse - is bringing home its staff.
Coaches carrying the holidaymakers will be given an armed military escort to Enfidha airport, which is itself heavily protected.
Around 20 planes will fly tourists and staff home to Manchester, Gatwick and other UK airports; the holiday companies will provide onward travel where needed to other airports.
Independent travellers are being urged to make their own arrangements, which are likely to involve scheduled flights from Tunis airport. Anyone who chooses to stay against the new advice will find their travel insurance is invalid, though policies will stay in effect for travellers who are endeavouring to find a way to leave the country.
The announcement from the Foreign Office came as a surprise. After both the Bardo Museum attack in Tunis in March, and the massacre on the beach at Sousse, the Government stopped short of putting Tunisia on the no-go list. But in the past two weeks the Tunisian authorities have failed to convince the Foreign Office that they can contain a multiplicity of threats, many emanating from across the long, leaky border with Libya.
The Foreign Office said: “Although we have had good co-operation from the Tunisian government, including putting in place additional security measures, the intelligence and threat picture has developed considerably, reinforcing our view that a further terrorist attack is highly likely. On balance, we do not believe the mitigation measures in place provide adequate protection for British tourists in Tunisia at the present time.”
The decision will wipe out UK tourism to the country, and enable Isis to claim another victory. Abta, the travel association, said: “Those people with bookings beyond the summer are advised to wait until closer to the departure date to contact their travel company.”The Independent