Tunisia shooting: Four Scots among 30 Brits killed

AT least four Scots were feared to be among 38 holidaymakers killed in the Tunisian beach massacre last night as relatives continued to wait for news of their loved ones.

Helen and Darren Tait are greeted by their daughter as they arrive back at Glasgow from Tunisia. Picture: PA
Helen and Darren Tait are greeted by their daughter as they arrive back at Glasgow from Tunisia. Picture: PA

Tributes were paid to retired couple James and Ann McQuire from Cumbernauld, who are believed to have been killed when a lone gunman attacked tourists at the beach resort of Sousse on Friday.

There are also fears for Lisa and Billy Graham, of Perth, who have not been heard from since last week’s attack.

Families yesterday expressed frustration at the lack of information from the Foreign Office as British police prepared to undertake their largest counter-terrorism deployment since the 7/7 attacks on London nearly a decade ago.

At least 15 Britons were thought to be among 38 holidaymakers killed in the massacre and that number is expected to rise.

Security was being stepped up at Wimbledon and elsewhere in Britain as the Queen joined those expressing shock and paying tribute to the victims.

Mr and Mrs McQuire, who had both recently retired, had been due to return from Tunisia on Saturday.

Mr McQuire, 66, was a former marine engineer who worked in the shipyards and had volunteered with his local Boys’ Brigade troop for a number of years. His wife, 63, was a medical receptionist before retiring last year.

Helen and Darren Tait are greeted by their daughter as they arrive back at Glasgow from Tunisia. Picture: PA

Neighbour David Wharton, 53, said: “Jim was the type of man who would do anything for anybody and was always very gracious.

“It might sound like something out of a fairytale but they were just the kindest, most genuinely nice neighbours you could possibly ask for.

“We had often considered moving away but the community around here and my neighbours were the best you could ever have.

“There’s not that many people that you could talk about in this world that you could honestly say were completely and utterly the best you could get but they were.”

A woman lays flowers at the beach next to the Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Souuse. Picture: Getty

His wife Lynn-Ann Wharton, 42, said: ”They were just the sweetest, nicest couple that you could meet. They were so friendly. You couldn’t ask for better neighbours.”

The family development officer at Abronhill Parish Church, where the Boys’ Brigade and Anchor Boys met in Cumbernauld, said: “Everyone here is just in so much shock at the moment.”

The McQuire’s daughter-in-law, Nicola, had earlier expressed frustration at the lack of information on the couple.

Writing on tour operator Thomsons’ Facebook page. she said: “Where can we get information about who has been accounted for?

A man and woman place flowers at the beach next to the Imperial Marhaba Hotel where 38 people were killed yesterday. Picture: Getty Images

“My husband has not heard from his parents and can’t get any information from your helpline.”

Similar complaints were raised by the family of Mr and Mrs Graham.

Nothing has been heard from the couple since the attack, but staff at the Imperial Hotel in Sousse say their room still has their clothes and belongings in it.

Daughter Holly, 29, said she and her friends had made numerous calls to a special hotline set up for victims’ families, but had not received a reply.

Speaking from her home in Bankfoot, Perthshire, she said: “My friends and I have made 20 different calls to the Foreign Office on a line they set up supposedly to help families requiring information.

“We have not been called back or acknowledged. I would have thought they would at least have found someone who could contact me direct and explain what they might do to help.

Flowers at the site of the attack

“In the meantime I am left with this terrible wait for information which is very hard to bear.

“I have not spoken to my mum or dad since Thursday night. They had been in contact every day since they got there.”

Ms Graham’s MP, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik, said she was “understandably upset and worried” about her mother and father.

Ms Ahmed-Sheikh, the MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, said yesterday: “I spoke to Holly Graham this morning, and she is understandably upset and worried about her parents.”

Kalashnikov-wielding student Seifeddine Rezgui killing spree on the beach at the RIU Imperial Marhaba and the RIU Bellevue ended when he was shot dead by police. A bomb was found on his body.

Investigators have revealed they are looking for at least one more accomplice.

Yesterday, survivors said local people formed a “human shield” at one point during the attack, helping to save “many lives”.

The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice to warn that further terrorist attacks in Tunisia are possible and urged people to be vigilant.

Speaking after a Scottish Government resilience meeting yesterday afternoon, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said everything was being done to support families affected by the attack.

She said: “I would like to offer my heartfelt sympathies to everyone who may have lost a loved one in this attack. We are prepared for the possibility that there may be Scottish victims among those who have lost their lives, but we have not yet received official confirmation of this.

“The threat level for the UK remains at severe and counter terrorism measures are in place to respond to this. The advice from Police Scotland is to stay vigilant and alert.

“We are working closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Police Scotland and other partners to ensure those have been caught up in the violence or are concerned about relatives who are missing have all of the advice, help and information they need. I want to reassure families that we are doing everything that we can to make sure they have this support.”

Police yesterday confirmed that 600 officers were working on the British response to the attack, which is being coordinated from the National Counter Terrorism Policing HQ at New Scotland Yard.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for counter-terrorism, said: “The national policing response to the attack in Tunisia is likely to be one of the largest counter terrorism deployments seen since July 2005.

“Because of the scale of the attack, the numbers of fatalities and the international nature of it, it is likely that several hundred counter terrorism and other police officers and staff will be working on this case for some time.

“We have already deployed a team of 16 officers to Tunisia, including senior detectives and specialist forensic officers from New Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, as well as family liaison officers.”

The Queen was among those sending their condolences to the families of those killed.

In a statement released by Buckingham Palace, she said: “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.”

A Tunisian security member stands next to a swimming pool following the shooting attack. Picture: AFP/Getty