Silence for the victims of Tunisia terrorist attack

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People in the Portsmouth area joined a minute’s silence today remember the victims of the Tunisia terror attack.

The silence will be observed across the country at noon - a week after the outrage - and flags will be flown at half-mast over Whitehall departments and Buckingham Palace.

Workers at 1000 Lakeside in Portsmouth observe the silence

Workers at 1000 Lakeside in Portsmouth observe the silence

Shoppers and workers in Havant were among those who observed the one minute’s silence.

Buskers put down their instruments as St Faith’s Church bells struck midday in West Street.

Drivers pulled up and turned off their engines and people stopped in their tracks and bowed their heads in a powerful moment of unity.

The silence hung heavy in hot air as people remembered the 38 tourists shot dead on the beach last Friday.

At 1000 Lakeside North Harbour, Portsmouth, people gathered in front of television screens showing pictures of those who lost their lives to reflect.

1000 Lakeside general manager Karen Tyrrell said: ‘It’s important to recognise what took place to remember the families that have been left behind, and take time to reflect on what happened.

‘It’s an opportunity to think about what is going on around us in our lives.

‘I wouldn’t want to go through what those families are going through.

‘When you go on holiday, you don’t think you might not come back.’

The bodies of 17 of the 30 British victims killed in the beach massacre have been returned to the UK and more are expected to be repatriated today and tomorrow.

The British victims - who included a Hampshire man, David Thompson from Tadley - were among the 38 holidaymakers who were killed by Seifeddine Rezgui when he opened fire in the resort of Sousse.

Three Irish nationals, two Germans, one Belgian, one Portuguese and one Russian were among the dead.

The first inquests into the deaths of the Britons will open at West London Coroner’s Court today.

Coroner Chinyere Inyama is expected to open and adjourn the hearings in which a headline cause of death will be confirmed and the bodies will be released to families.

Recent days have seen military personnel complete the solemn task of receiving some of the victims on British soil in a ceremony at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

Members of the RAF Regiment’s Queen’s Colour Squadron unloaded the coffins from the RAF C-17 transport plane used to bring them back from Tunisia into the waiting hearses.

They were watched by relatives of the dead who were present at the air base.

Holiday operators Thomson and First Choice have confirmed that all 30 British victims were their customers.

It is believed Rezgui - who was shot dead by police - had accomplices who helped him to carry out the atrocity and the Tunisian government said it had made a number of arrests.

Eight people - seven men and one woman - were in custody, suspected of having direct links to the massacre, but four others had been released, government minister Kamel Jendoubi said.

He said the investigation “has allowed us to discover the network behind the operation in Sousse”.

According to Tunisian officials, the gunman trained at a Libyan jihadist camp at the same time as the two gunmen who attacked the Bardo museum in Tunis in March, killing 22 people.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon vowed that those responsible for the massacre would be “tracked down”.

The Metropolitan Police said 76 family liaison officers across the country were supporting the families of those killed and the survivors while hundreds of counter terrorism officers were helping the international response to the attack.

Specialist advisers have also been deployed to Tunisia by the National Policing Counter Terrorism Headquarters to assist the Foreign Office and Tunisian authorities in reviewing security at other tourist resorts and attractions.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the national policing lead for counter terrorism, said: “With the threat level to the UK from international terrorism remaining at severe, the UK police service is continually reviewing security to help ensure people and places are as safe as possible.”

He appealed for anyone who was in Sousse and witnessed the attack to contact the confidential anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321.

He also said that dedicated email addresses for people to send any images and information “that may assist” in the investigation has also been set up.

People can go online - to either www.ukpoliceimageappeal.com or www.ukpoliceimageappeal.co.uk and relevant information to tunisiaenquiry@met.police.uk - to send their images.

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