Armed Police Flood To Protect Tourists Following Tunisia Attack

Resort towns in Tunisia are on high alert following the terror attack on Friday which left 39 dead, with Reuters reporting a highly-increased police presence in resort towns. Tourism is a vitally important industry for Tunisia, and it is feared that the beach attack, coupled with the attack earlier this year on tourists in Tunis, could spell trouble for the country, with thousands of tourists having already returned home. The Daily Mail reports that the police presence extends not just to the resorts' streets, but to the hotels themselves.

The police presence is likely an attempt to assuage tourists' fears and keep this core Tunisian industry alive. The interior minister, Mohamed Najem Gharsalli, has said that the country needs to protect the industry, according to the Associated Press.

"We don't want to make tourist establishments into barracks, that's not our goal. But we must act to guarantee the security of the tourist sector."
Reuters report that the Tunisian tourism minister, Salma Loumi, said that several European countries want to see changes in security being made.

"Germans, French, and British officials informed us they would not prevent tourists from coming to Tunisia, but they want to participate in the investigation and to see clear security decisions," Loumi said on Sunday. She added "We will receive all ambassadors on Tuesday to inform them of all security measures taken to protect tourists."

An armed policeman on horseback patrols Marhaba beach.
A Tunisian policeman armed with a Steyr AUG assault rifle patrols the beach where 39 tourists were killed on Friday.

Following the hotel attack, the Tunisian government has blamed the hotel for its slow response, The Daily Mail reports. Indeed, The Guardian reports that the gunman had time to move from the hotel back to the beach, before he was finally killed in the streets of Sousse, ending the attack.

It is thought that the gunman may have had accomplices, with some questioning whether there was a second gunman, a claim which the Tunisian government currently deny. A government spokesman, Mohammed Ali Aroui, told the Associated Press that the government is currently only searching for accomplices, saying "we are sure that others helped but did not participate."

The situation in certain parts of Tunisia is reportedly extremely perilous, particularly areas on the Tunisia-Libya border and certain areas along the border with Algeria, but it is feared that other parts of the country may be becoming unsafe. Reuters reports that gunmen recently carried out a raid in El Kef, a town in Western Tunisia, currently classified by the British Foreign Office as being relatively safe.

Following the beach attack, should Tunisia wish to keep tourism alive, the increased police presence will be seen as extremely prudent.

Would you still visit Tunisia after the attacks? Would the armed police help you feel safe?

[Photos by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]