Queen sends condolences to terror victims as thousands fly home from Tunisia

Police officers watch tourists taking photographs of flowers at the scene of the attack in Sousse, Tunisia, Sunday, June 28, 2015. Tunisia's top security official says 1,000 extra police are being deployed at tourist sites and beaches in the North African nation after Friday's attack. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
Police officers watch tourists taking photographs of flowers at the scene of the attack in Sousse, Tunisia, Sunday, June 28, 2015. Tunisia's top security official says 1,000 extra police are being deployed at tourist sites and beaches in the North African nation after Friday's attack. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
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The Queen has sent her condolences to the families of those killed in the Tunisian beach massacre, saying the brutal attack had left her and the Duke of Edinburgh “shocked”.

The monarch also sent her “deepest sympathy” to those injured in Friday’s brutal slaughter in Sousse which left at least 15 Britons dead.

A Tunisian police officer guards the beach area in front of the attacked Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Sousse, Tunisia.

A Tunisian police officer guards the beach area in front of the attacked Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Sousse, Tunisia.

As tributes were paid to the victims by family and friends, Buckingham Palace released a statement from the Queen saying: “Prince Philip and I were shocked to learn of the attack on British tourists in Tunisia on Friday.

“We send our sincere condolences to the families of those who were killed and our deepest sympathy to the people who are still fighting for their lives in hospital, and those who have been seriously injured.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those of all countries who have been affected by this terrible event.”

Home Secretary Theresa May said the British deaths figure was expected to rise as more information comes out. Three Irish people are also among the dead.

Meanwhile, thousands of tourists have arrived back in the UK from Tunisia in the wake of the attack.

Holiday firms have scrambled extra flights on top of scheduled services for people seeking to flee back to Britain since the slaughter in Sousse. Flights to the country have also been cancelled.

Thomas Cook said today 1,100 people who cut short their stay in the North African country were among 3,600 who have flown back since the attack. It laid on two extra flights yesterday and another today.

It said that none of the affected hotels were used by the firm and it had no staff or customers on them.

It is offering customers due to travel to Tunisia up to July 4 the chance to cancel or alter their booking, with those travelling after July 5 able to rebook for free.

Thomson and First Choice had 12 additional flights leaving Tunisia’s Enfidha airport today for airports including Doncaster, Cardiff, Gatwick, Stansted, Bristol, Luton, Newcastle, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, East Midlands.

Tui Group, which runs the companies, has been unable to confirm how many of the 38 people killed or injured in the shooting were its customers, but said there had been a “number of fatalities”.

Thomson advised anyone worried about friends or family to call 0800 0885372.

Jet2Holidays said it had flown home more than 600 tourists yesterday and today, with a further flight due to leave today.

A spokeswoman said chief executive Steve Heapy was due to arrive in Tunisia this afternoon “to support our existing management team both at Enfidha Airport and in Sousse, Port el Kantaoui and Skanes, ensuring that our remaining customers get the additional support they need”.

She added: “At this stage, we believe those customers remaining have chosen to continue their holidays.”

The Foreign Office has updated it’s advice for travelling to Tunisia, warning holidaymakers to be “especially vigilant”.

The advice on its website said people should not travel to the Chaambi Mountain National Park area, the Tunisia-Algeria border crossings at Ghardimaou, Hazoua and Sakiet Sidi Youssef, the militarised area south of El Borma and Dhehiba or within 5km of the Libyan border.

It added: “Further terrorist attacks in Tunisia, including in tourist resorts, are possible, including by individuals who are unknown to the authorities and whose actions are inspired by terrorist groups via social media.

“You should be especially vigilant at this time and follow the advice of Tunisian security authorities and your tour operator.”

The Association of British Travel Agents, known as Abta, estimates there are approximately 20,000 customers currently on holiday with Abta members in Tunisia.

But it said there will also be a number of holidaymakers who have travelled independently.