A British mother on a luxury Mediterranean cruise with her husband was among the victims of Wednesday’s massacre at a Tunis museum.
Sally Adey, 57, was one of 20 tourists gunned down by Islamic fanatics as they stepped off a bus at the Bardo Museum.
Her husband Robert Adey, 52, a partner in a Birmingham law firm, was unharmed in the bloodbath in the Tunisian capital that saw more than 60 people shot.
Mrs Adey’s father Robert Johnson, a 90-year-old retired RAF Wing Commander, was said to be ‘shattered into a million pieces’ by the news of his daughter’s murder.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the slaughter in a chilling audio message describing the gunmen as ‘two knights of the caliphate’, but terror group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was also being blamed. The dead gunmen are believed to have links to AQIM.
David Cameron condemned the ‘appalling and brutal outrage’, adding: ‘Our heart goes out to her family. We will do everything we can to help the family at this very difficult time.’
Authorities in Tunisia – facing the ruin of their tourist trade – vowed to wage war on terror, and arrested nine people considered part of the cell responsible.
Mr and Mrs Adey, described as ‘avid cruisers’, had been looking forward to their seven-night tour of the Mediterranean aboard MSC Splendida, a luxury ship where cabins cost up to £1,800 per person.
They had flown from Gatwick to Genoa, Italy, last Sunday, for the start of the cruise. The ship had berthed at Civitavecchia, near Rome, on Monday, Palermo on the island of Sicily, on Tuesday, and then Tunis on Wednesday.
Once docked on the North African coast, Mr and Mrs Adey were among the guests who took up chance to visit the Bardo Museum, home to world-famous Roman mosaics.
As passengers disembarked four coaches – from the Splendida and another cruise ship, the Costa Fascinosa – outside the 15th-century former palace, the two terrorists brandishing Kalashnikovs and grenades began firing.
Museum visitors reported hearing shouts of ‘Allahu Akbar’ followed by gunfire. A tour guide told how the two men, clad in army fatigues, ‘opened fire on anything that moved’.
The gunmen then entered the building, taking as many as 100 adults and children hostage in a four-hour siege that ended when they were killed by Tunisian special forces. In all, 60 people suffered gunshot wounds, with 22 innocent people dying – including a police officer and a museum cleaner.
The dead gunmen were named as Tunisian nationals Yassine Abidi and Hatem Khachnaoui, both in their 20s.
Security sources claimed they had spent two months training with Islamist militants in Derna, eastern Libya, before slipping back into Tunisia. Both had spent ‘a great deal of time’ in Kasserine, the western Tunisian province which is considered a stronghold of AQIM.
However, it was uncertain which group was responsible for the attack after IS issued an unverified claim of responsibility in a statement describing a ‘blessed invasion of one of the dens of infidels and vice in Muslim Tunisia’.
Yassine Abidi had been under surveillance by the security services but ‘not for anything very special’, Tunisia’s Prime Minister Habib Essid revealed. Friends of the gunman told the BBC he had been radicalised by the growing conflict in Libya.
They claimed he ‘used to be a guy who gambled and drank’ but had been brainwashed by extremists.
Tunisian authorities said yesterday they had arrested nine people suspected of helping the two gunmen. The statement said that at least four of the nine arrested suspects had direct connections to the attack at the museum, and the others were associates.
Last night Mrs Adey’s friends paid tribute to a ‘much-loved daughter, wife and mother’.
Debra Thomas, 43, who had holidayed with her recently, said: ‘I’m just totally distraught. I’m really struggling to understand what has gone on. Sally was a wonderful lady.’
Neighbour Annette Crawshaw, 73, said: ‘They are a lovely family. I last spoke to Sally at Christmas time. She seemed delighted to be spending time with her family.’
The Adeys, who married in 1984 and have two children, Molly, 20, and Harry, 23, have a detached five-bedroom home in a hamlet outside Wolverhampton.
Mrs Adey is believed to have retired from her job as a solicitor to help her children through their A-levels and had only recently started to get back to work part-time. MSC Cruises said it was offering support to her husband in Tunis.
A spokesman said there were 79 British passengers and ten Irish passengers on the ship, all of whom were now accounted for. Yesterday the MSC Splendida continued on its Mediterranean tour to Barcelona and then Marseille.
ISIS CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY BUT SUSPECTED AL-QAEDA TERRORISTS NAMED
Two suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists were today identified as the ringleaders of the murderous attack.
They were named as Yassine Abidi and Hatem Khachnaoui, both Tunisians in their 20s, who were themselves gunned down by police commandos.
Both had spent ‘a great deal of time’ in Kasserine, the western province which is considered a stronghold of a jihadi group linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Tunisia’s government also announced that the two gunmen had trained at a jihadist camp in Libya, after being recruited at mosques in Tunisia.
Interior minister official Rafik Chelli said the two men had travelled to Libya in September.
However, it remains uncertain what group is responsible after ISIS today attempted to claim responsibility.
Although it could simply be an attempt to take the credit and notoriety generated by the attack, a tweet sent from pro-ISIS Twitter accounts yesterday did accurately predict the massacre.
Sent just hours before the gunmen opened fire on the popular museum, the tweet read: ‘Coming good news to Tunisia’s Muslims, and a shock to the disbelievers and the hypocrites, especially those who claim to be cultured.’
Today it issued a statement describing the attack as a ‘blessed invasion of one of the dens of infidels and vice in Muslim Tunisia,’ and appeared on a forum that carries messages from the group.
The statement said there were two attackers and they weren’t killed until they ran out of ammunition and it promised further attacks.
‘Wait for the glad tidings of what will harm you, impure ones, for what you have seen today is the first drop of the rain,’ the statement, which was also announced by U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, said.
However, a Tunisian Interior Ministry source said today: ‘The young men had boasted of their links with AQIM. One was living permanently in Tunis, while another was still based in Kasserine.
‘AQIM is well established in the region, and anti-terrorist operations are currently underway there in connection with yesterday’s attack’.
Kalashnikovs and grenades were used by Abidi and Khachnaoui during an onslaught which lasted four hours.
Tunisia has said it will deploy the army to major cities and announced the arrest of nine people today in the wake of the worst attack on the north African country in more than a decade.
Five of those are said to be ‘directly linked’ to the attack, while the other four are said to be part of the terror ‘cell’ supporting those involved in the attack.
Yassine Abidi had been under surveillance but ‘not for anything very special’, Tunisia’s Prime Minister Habib Essid said.
He told France’s RTL radio that Tunisia was working with other countries to learn more about the slain attackers.
However, all major cruise companies had last night cancelled stops in Tunisia for the ‘foreseeable future’ according to the Cruise Lines International Association, after fanatics pledged further attacks in the country that is a notorious breeding ground for jihadis.
Despite being the sole success story of the Arab Spring uprising that swept North Africa and the Middle East four years ago, the country still struggles with economic problems.
This has allowed jihadi groups to capitalise on the disappointment felt by those who expected a change after the repressive regime of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, was toppled in December 2010.
Since the Jasmine Revolution, Tunisia has held two free elections, creating a fledgling democracy loathed by Islamic extremists.
This week’s brutal terror attacks have fuelled fears that the Mediterranean tourism hotspot might no longer be a beacon of stability in a region overshadowed by fanaticism.
Charlie Winter, researcher with the London-based Quilliam Foundation, said: ‘Tunisia has been looked on fondly as an example of the Arab Spring gone-right, but it’s also been the biggest provider of foreign fighters to ISIS. And there are a significant amount of Tunisians in neighbouring Libya, fighting for ISIS and other groups.’
How survivors played dead to avoid slaughter
The bloody carnage unleashed at the Bardo Museum was revealed yesterday in terrifying pictures of the aftermath.
Gruesome images showed the two gunmen lying dead after being shot by Tunisian commandos who ended the four-hour siege and rescued more than 100 hostages.
Pictures show the damage wreaked throughout the building. The walls and windows were peppered with bullet holes while unused grenades lay scattered among the debris.
Witnesses said the fanatics targeted ‘anything that moved’ and ‘simply kept shooting until they ran out of bullets’.
Yesterday morning Spanish honeymooner Cristina Rubio, who is four months pregnant, and her husband Juan Carlos Sanchez were found alive after spending the night hiding inside the museum. Her father David Rubio said: ‘They were shut inside a cleaners’ room for almost 24 hours, hearing Arab voices and not knowing whether they were terrorists or the police.’
Mr Sanchez said: ‘We realised that someone was shooting and went to hide. We hid in a small room and that’s where we stayed until the police saw us and then we left.’
TUNIS DROPPED BY CRUISE FIRMS: MORE THAN 50 OPERATORS SAID NO SHIPS WOULD BE CALLING AT CITY ‘IN THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE’
Cruise companies last night cancelled all stops in Tunis following the terrorist attack.
An association which looks after more than 50 cruise operators – including P&O, Thomson and Cunard – said no ships would be calling at the city ‘in the foreseeable future’.
The mass cancellations follow a stark warning from the Foreign Office that ‘further attacks are possible’. The FCO has also advised holidaymakers to only travel to the interior of the country with a ‘reputable tour guide’.
Italian operators MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises, used by hundreds of British tourists each year, have already scrapped planned stops to Tunisian ports with immediate effect and said they were ‘seeking alternative ports’.
Holiday companies Thomson and First Choice said they had also cancelled voyages to Tunis, while P&O, Princess and Celebrity cruises said they were taking advice from security services. A spokesman for the Cruise Lines International Association said last night: ‘No CLIA member ships are scheduled to call at Tunis in the foreseeable future.
‘Cruise lines coordinate closely with national and international authorities when visiting destinations around the globe to help ensure passenger safety.’
Last year, 425,000 British holidaymakers visited Tunisia and last night there were fears that as many as 6,500 could still be in the country.
However a spokesman for Thomson and First Choice said: ‘Our customers stay in beach destinations, not Tunis, and we can confirm that none of our customers or staff were affected by Wednesday’s events.’ He added that, as a precaution, all excursions to Tunis have been cancelled.
Meanwhile a spokesman for travel agent association ABTA said the tourist season was only just getting under way but safety was always a priority.
He told Sky News: ‘Tourist numbers to Tunisia have picked up over the last two years and we have had very healthy bookings for this summer. The season really picks up around mid-April to May.
‘We now have a developing situation. ABTA follows FCO advice very closely and safety is always the main concern.’ Bob Atkinson, a travel expert at TravelSupermarket, added: ‘Tour operators have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their tour operators.
‘Consumers who already have holidays booked this year will want to be convinced of the safety – most of them will be staying at beach resorts and the vast bulk would not even go to Tunis on a day trip.’
The Tunis outrage has tragic echoes of the November 1997 Luxor massacre in Egypt, when gunmen killed 58 foreign holidaymakers including six Britons. Tour operators pulled out of the Egyptian market and it was some time before holidays started again.
The CLIA spokesperson continued: ‘Cruise line security personnel, in addition to ongoing communication with national and international security authorities, enhance the security of cruise ships.
‘CLIA members maintain rigorous policies and procedures designed to safeguard passengers.’
A Colombian retired army general watched his wife and child being shot dead beside him. The family were on a cruise to celebrate the recent graduation of his son Javier Camelo, 28, who had spent a year studying in London in 2013.
Mr Camelo was photographed with his graduation certificate at Madrid University last week and his last picture posted on Facebook was of the family in Italy days ago.
Another survivor, identified only as Maryline from Paris, told France Info how she splashed herself with victims’ blood in a desperate attempt to play dead and avoid the attentions of the gunmen.
She said: ‘A terrorist appeared in the corridor leading to our room. He came from nowhere shooting in all directions. The only thing that saved me was I was with lots of people all squashed together with our heads down.
‘The terrorist showered us with bullets. The person in front of me was hit right in the head. We were still alive, so we thought it would be best to pretend to be dead and smear blood all over ourselves in case they returned.’
A Japanese survivor, 35-year-old Noriko Yuki, said: ‘I was crouching down with my arms over my head, but I was shot in the ear, hand and neck. My mother beside me was shot in the neck.
‘Mother couldn’t move by herself when the police came over.’
Josep Lluis Cusido, mayor of the small Spanish town of Vallmoll, was on a wedding anniversary trip with his wife, and said: ‘They started shooting everyone walking down the plaza. After they entered the museum. I saw their faces.
‘They were about ten metres away from me, shooting at anything that moved. I managed to hide behind a pillar, but there were unlucky people who they killed right there.’
Spanish fatalities included Antonio Cirera Perez, 75, and his wife Dolors, 73, from Barcelona, who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary with a cruise gift from their family.