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Tunisia makes first arrests over beach attack: Minister

Tunisia has made the first arrests over this weekend's beach attack, later claimed by the Islamic State Group
Tunisian Interior Minister Mohamed Najem Gharsalli lays flowers on the site of a shooting along with British, German and French counterparts (AFP)

Tunisia has made the first arrests over Friday's deadly beach attack, in an attack later claimed by the Islamic State group. 

Interior Minister Hajem Gharsalli said the authorities had arrested "a significant number of people from the network that was behind this terrorist criminal," referring to the lone gunman.

Thirty-eight people, now known to be mainly British tourist, were all gunned down in less than half an hour on Friday after Seifeddine Rezgui gained access to the beach and began firing shot after shot at foreign tourists visiting Port al-Kantaoui, a seaside town some 100 kilometres south of Tunis.

Rezgui was later shot dead by police, but many questions remain about the level of outside support the 23-year-old had.

No further information has emerged about the arrest as yet. While the gunmen’s parents were reportedly briefly detained after the incident, they have not been charged in relation to the killings, with his father saying he was shocked and had no idea that his son had become an IS supporter.

Tunisia has now moved to arm tourism police and deployed hundreds of reinforcements, with Britain – the country worst affected by the killings – calling for further action to combat militants.

“To our shock and grief we must add another word: resolve. Unshakeable resolve. We will stand up for our way of life," British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote in British newspaper the Daily Telegraph calling for "a response at home and abroad".

"We must be stronger at standing up for our values - of peace, democracy, tolerance, freedom. We must be more intolerant of intolerance - rejecting anyone whose views condone the Islamist extremist narrative and create the conditions for it to flourish."

British Home Secretary Theresa May, who flew out to Tunisia to visit the scene of the attacks, has also vowed to “defeat those who would do us harm, to defeat those who would undermine our freedom and democracy and to ensure that the terrorists do not win”.

“We have had a meeting this morning with my interior ministry colleagues, which has shown the determination that we all have to fight against this perverted ideology that is causing this death and destruction," May said after visiting the beach along with her French and German counterparts.