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Tunisia makes multiple arrests over Sousse beach attack

AFP | Tourists mourn on June 28 at the site of a deadly attack on a Tunisian beach in Sousse.

Tunisian authorities arrested eight people on Thursday suspected of having links to the deadly attack on a Sousse beach hotel almost a week ago that left 38 people dead.


Government Minister Kamel Jendoubi told reporters in Tunis that seven men and one woman are suspected of having direct links to the attack.

Authorities are also searching for two men who trained in a Libyan jihadist camp with the Sousse attacker, an official said.

Officials said earlier that those behind the hotel attack had trained in Libya at the same time as the two men behind a March gun attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis that left 21 people dead.

“This is a group who were trained in Libya, and who had the same objective. Two attacked the Bardo and one attacked Sousse,” Lazhar Akremi, minister for parliamentary relations, told reporters late on Wednesday.

“Police are hunting for two more,” he said.

Tunisia has been hailed as a model of peaceful democratic transition since a 2011 Arab Spring uprising ousted its longtime autocratic leader. It is now one of the most secular countries in the Arab world, and its Mediterranean beach resorts and nightclubs are popular with Europeans.

Thirty-eight foreigners, most of them British tourists, were killed by gunman Saif Rezgui, who claimed the attack in the name of the militant Islamic State (IS) group. 

IS said the gunman, who they identified as Abu Yahya al-Qayrawani, was a "solider of the caliphate" who had targeted enemies of the jihadist group and "dens [of] fornication, vice and apostasy".

Most of those killed were "subjects of states that make up the crusader alliance fighting the state of the caliphate", the group said in a statement released on Twitter, referring to those nations that have been bombarding jihadist positions in the Middle East.

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, the gunman's father said his son had been "brainwashed".

“I am shocked, they brainwashed my son,” Hakim Rezgui said. “He was studying well, he was about to graduate, he was cultured, and some people came and brainwashed him.”

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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