THE UK will stand alongside Tunisia and France and fight the “evil of terrorism”, David Cameron has said as he warned that “we all face this threat”.
The Prime Minister said yesterday’s terror attacks could have happened “anywhere” as he vowed to fight the “poisoning death cult” of Islamist extremism with “everything we have”.
Speaking at a Brussels summit, he also urged Europe to do more to “co-ordinate and build our capacity on counter-terrorism”. His comments came amid growing concern in the UK over Europe’s failure to share passenger data to help stop terrorists.
He said: “Our hearts all go out to the victims of these appalling terrorist acts. I spoke to President [François] Hollande and offered my sympathy and our solidarity with the French people at this time. We will speak later with the Tunisian government and again offer our sympathy and condolences and our solidarity in fighting this evil of terrorism.”
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond chaired an emergency meeting of the government’s Cobra committee yesterday in the wake of three terror attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France.
Speaking following talks with tour operators, he confirmed at least five British fatalities with that number set to rise.
Mr Hammond said the committee would meet again today to discuss the situation. After offering his condolences to the people of Tunisia, Kuwait and France, he added: “Turning to the incident in Tunisia, which is of most direct concern to people in this country because of the number of Britons involved, it is clear that there have been a number of people killed.
“The situation is still somewhat confused and we can’t be sure exactly how many, but because of the nature of the composition of the tourist population in this part of Tunisia we have to assume that a high proportion of those killed and injured will have been British.
“We have had reports from families of those involved in the incident that allow us to confirm that at least five Britons have been killed, but I should warn that we must expect that there will be more reports of fatalities as we establish the detail on the ground.”
A consular team is in Sousse, with two rapid response teams travelling to the region overnight, Mr Hammond said.
He continued: “We are working with the Tunisian authorities to understand what they are doing in response to this incident and around the tightening of security.
“We are talking to other national authorities – particularly the Germans who had large numbers of tourists in the area – and I have just finished a conference call with the tour operators who operate the majority of flights into this area.”
Tunisia’s health ministry confirmed that those killed included Britons, Tunisians, Germans and Belgians. Thirty-six others have been wounded. Meanwhile, police are putting in place extra security measures for UK events this weekend, including Armed Forces Day and Pride London, in response to the heightened terror threat.
Senior counter-terror officer Deputy Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said the measures were designed to “protect and reassure” on a weekend of “large public celebrations”.
They include the annual Pride event in London, which last year saw more than 750,000 people attending, and Armed Forces Day, which celebrates the work of the military at events across the country.
She said: “The threat to the UK from international terrorism remains at severe and our security measures to protect the public are kept under constant review to ensure they are appropriate and effective.
“Our priority is to keep people safe and we continue to review our ability to prevent and respond to terrorist incidents and potential threats.
“And as we approach a weekend of large public celebrations around the country, including Armed Forces Day events and Pride London, we will be putting in place additional security measures to help protect and reassure the public.
“The police service and our security and intelligence partners are working tirelessly to counter the threat from terrorism and keep the public safe.
“We have seen a large increase in the level of counter-terrorist policing activity in the UK. This includes arresting suspects and disrupting their activities, as well as working with communities to prevent people from being drawn into violent extremism.”