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UK foreign affairs committee chair says he would still travel to Tunisia

'We live in a world where we have these jihadis who are seeking out western targets and I'm not sure this is confined to Tunisia,' Crispin Blunt said.
A Tunisian policeman stands guard on 10 July at a hotel on the outskirts of Sousse (AFP)

The chairman of the UK's foreign affairs select committee says he would still travel to Tunisia, despite a government advisory this week urging Britons to avoid non-essential travel to the country.

"We live in a world where we have these jihadis who are seeking out western targets and I’m not sure this is confined to Tunisia," Crispin Blunt told BBC's Radio 4 on Saturday.

On Thursday, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned against travel to Tunisia, two weeks after 38 tourists, including 30 Britons, were killed in a deadly attack at a beach resort in Sousse.

The UK's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond justified his decision, saying that intelligence on the situation in Tunisia had developed since the attack "leading us to the view that a further terrorist attack is highly likely". 

"We have not taken this decision lightly but our first priority will always be the safety of our citizens," Hammond said. 

A day earlier, Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid had told the country's parliament that he feared further attacks. And last week, President Beji Caid Essebsi admitted that while Tunisian officials had boosted security in the country during Ramadan, they had not anticipated an attack at a beach.

The Danish government on Friday also advised its nationals to leave Tunisia, saying there was a high risk of another attack. 

Emphasising that no one knows what intelligence Hammond may have received that fed into his decision, Blunt raised questions in Saturday's interview about why the UK told its citizens to return from the country while France had not and also why the FCO changed its advisory this week, rather than in the immediate wake of the attack.

"It’s very serious, the implications of this travel advice for the Tunisian economy and the success of Tunisia is of key British national interest in our wider fight against ISIL," he said.

Hammond is scheduled to appear before the foreign affairs select committee on 21 July. Blunt said he plans to ask the secretary on what basis he made his decision.

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