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Tunisian government to close 80 mosques suspected of inciting extremism

TUNIS: Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid has said a raft of new anti-terrorism measures would go into effect from July 1, including the deployment of reserve troops to reinforce security at “sensitive sites… and places that could be targets of terrorist attacks”.

The Tunisian premier said the government would also close 80 mosques suspected of inciting extremism.

It constituted an “exceptional plan to better secure tourist and archaeological sites,” he said.

But tour operators scambled to fly thousands of fearful holidaymakers home from Tunisia.

During the night, 13 aircraft took off from Enfidha airport north of Sousse.

Travel companies Thomson and First Choice said 10 Thomson Airways flights would be repatriating about 2,500 Thomson and First Choice customers on Saturday.

They said some of their customers had been caught up in the massacre.

At least 8 Britons, one Belgian and one German dead

Eight Britons, one Belgian and one German have been identified among the 38 people killed by an Islamist gunman at a Tunisian beach resort, the health ministry said on Saturday.

“Ten bodies have been identified out of 38 — eight Britons, a Belgian and a German,” said senior ministry official Naoufel Somrani.

Another 39 people were wounded including British, German and Belgian nationals.

The ministry said more time was needed to identify the other victims because most of them were in beachwear at the time of the attack and were not carrying identification.

The Islamic State jihadist group claimed responsibility for the attack on Friday by an assailant who pulled a gun from inside a beach umbrella and opened fire on crowds of tourists on the beach and by a hotel pool in the popular Mediterranean resort of Port el Kantaoui.

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid said early Saturday that most of the dead were British but that they also included Germans, Belgians and French.

The shooting followed a March attack claimed by IS on Tunis’s Bardo National Museum that killed 21 foreign tourists and a policeman, and the tourism industry had already been bracing for a heavy blow.

Tourism accounts for seven percent of Tunisia’s GDP and almost 400,000 direct and indirect jobs. -AFP

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