Britons death toll in Tunisia attack to soar to 'around 30'
LONDON - The number of Britons killed in a gun massacre in Tunisia is expected to rise to "around 30", officials said on Monday, as Britain dispatched a military transport plane to help evacuate the injured.
Prime Minister David Cameron promised to mount a "full investigation" into Friday's attack on a beach resort near the city of Sousse with 16 British detectives already in Tunisia to aid the police there.
Hundreds more British police were sent to interview the thousands of tourists who have been returning to Britain from Tunisia, some of whom might have witnessed the beach massacre claimed by the Islamic State group.
"We will not give up our way of life and cower in the face of terrorism," Cameron said, underlining the need both to fight IS jihadists in Iraq and Syria and to tackle non-violent extremists in Britain.
He also said Britain would hold a minute's silence on Friday for the one-week anniversary of the attack, the worst for the country since four suicide bombings in London on July 7, 2005 killed 52 people.
Flags were flown at half mast over Cameron's Downing Street office in sympathy with the victims.
The confirmed death toll of Britons is currently at 18 out of the 38 foreign tourists who were mowed down by a Kalashnikov-toting gunman, identified as 23-year-old student Seifeddine Rezgui.
Tunisia says four other victims have been identified as tourists from Germany, Portugal, Ireland and Belgium. Ireland said Sunday three of its citizens were killed.
A Royal Air Force (RAF) Boeing C17 plane will evacuate four injured Britons on Monday and all 25 of the British wounded -- out of a total of 39 hurt -- will have been evacuated by Tuesday, officials said.
Cameron said the RAF also stood ready to repatriate the bodies of victims in accordance with families' wishes using C17 and C130 military transport planes.
The government is pressing Tunisia to allow access for British experts to speed up the identification of the victims, the prime minister's office said.
Cameron said he shared the "frustration" of families waiting for news of loved ones but said the process was difficult since many tourists had not been carrying identification or were too disfigured.
So far 20 flights laid on by tour operators have evacuated tourists and the Association of British Travel Agents said about half of an estimated 20,000 British tourists in Tunisia at the time of the attack were now home.
British interior minister Theresa May travelled to Tunisia on Monday along with junior foreign minister Tobias Ellwood, who himself lost his brother in a terror attack on the Indonesian island of Bali in 2002.
Cameron said Britain would hold a major emergency response exercise in London over the next two days.