Video: Traumatised tourists take stock after Tunisia hotel attack
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Hours after a gunman disguised as a tourist sprayed bullets at a Tunisian hotel on Friday, killing at least 38 people, many traumatised vacationers decided to leave the resort and return home to worried family members.
Britons, Germans and Belgians were among the dead in the attack claimed by the Islamic State group, which targeted the popular resort of Sousse.
One Belgian tourist, Patrick Panier, said he was struggling to make a decision on whether he should stay on in Tunisia despite the attack. A regular customer, Panier originally planned to stay at the Imperial Marhaba hotel, the site of the attack, until June 30.
“If it were up to my wife and I, we would stay because otherwise we let the fools win. But we have children, they already called us, so it's a difficult choice,” he told FRANCE 24.
The attack, which took place during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, was the second major attack in the North African country this year. Tunisia has been on high alert since March when Islamist militant gunmen attacked the Bardo museum in Tunis, killing 22 people, mostly tourists.
Tunisia, which has been hailed as a model of democratic transition since its 2011 'Arab Spring' uprising, is one of the most secular countries in the Arab world. Its beach resorts and nightclubs on the Mediterranean are popular with European visitors.
But Islamist jihadists have attacked North African tourist sites before, seeing them as legitimate targets because of their open Western lifestyles and tolerance of alcohol.
Selma Elloumi Rekik, Tunisia’s minister for tourism, said the country would be introducing new policies and toughening security.
“We are now going to take extreme measures, everything will change,” Rekik said.
“We will meet with the prime minister to implement a whole new set of measures, and they will be extremely strong decisions.”
At the hotel on Friday, an ambulance evacuated the body of the last victim of the attack.
Nearby, an Irish tourist, who gave his first name as Anthony, said he chose to cut his vacation short.
“Even though I've been here ten times, the holiday is busted now,” he said, as he waited in despair for friends to board a bus to leave the hotel.
“There are a couple of our friends missing, I reckon they should be on this bus. It doesn't look too good.”