Beach Massacre Could Prove Extra Costly for Tunisia

Tourists are fleeing after 39 were killed
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2015 6:36 AM CDT
Beach Massacre Could Prove Extra Costly for Tunisia
In this photo dated Friday, June 26, 2015 the body of the attacker Seifeddine Rezgui lies on the ground in the coastal town of Sousse, Tunisia.   (Jawhara FM via AP)

The attacker who yesterday unfurled an umbrella and pulled out a Kalashnikov, opening fire on European sunbathers at the Imperial Marhaba hotel and killing at least 39, may help cause the death of something else: Tunisia's tourism industry. USA Today reports that industry accounts for 15% of the country's GDP, and tourists are fleeing the country. The AP reports the nationalities of 10 of the dead have been revealed: eight Britons, a Belgian, and a German. Now, tourists are being evacuated from the country by the travel companies that helped send them there. The AP spoke to two that say thousands of tourists are today boarding planes home; one estimate puts the number of Brits currently vacationing in Tunisia at 20,000.

More is coming into focus about the attack itself. Prime Minister Habib Essid has named the gunman as Seifeddine Rezgui, who Essid said was not previously known to law enforcement and had never left the country. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, per the US-based SITE Intelligence Group, and claimed Rezgui was radicalized at mosques roughly 40 miles from Sousse, where the massacre occurred. ISIS previously claimed credit for the March attack on Tunis' Bardo museum, in which 18 tourists also died. "When the number of tourists drops, the government isn't collecting the money it needs to manage the sites," a cultural-heritage consultant tells NBC News. (More Tunisia stories.)

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