World

Indian-origin families relive Tunisia terror attack horror

London, July 10: Two Indian-origin families who escaped a gunman in Tunisia as he shot 38 tourists dead last month are still recovering from the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attack.

Cambridge-based Pallavi Patel and her husband Naynesh Patel had joined their friends as part of a week-long package holiday in Sousse which was to become the site of a bloody massacre on June 26.

A last-minute suggestion by Pallavi to head into town for some shopping instead of their daily routine of relaxing on the beach saved their lives.

"The terrorist began shooting exactly from the spot which had been our regular every day. If we hadn't gone out for shopping that day we would have definitely lost our lives," said 57-year-old Pallavi, who recounts a series of coincidences that came into play on the fateful day which resulted in the death of 30 British tourists.

"It was God that saved our lives that day. When I think back there were so many points where we could have been in the path of the terrorists. We made so many friends on the beach and they are all dead today," Pallavi said.

Pallavi, who had suffered a mild stroke last year, was in Tunisia for a recuperating and relaxing holiday. She is now planning to seek medical counseling to try and get over the trauma, which has been giving her sleepless nights.

"I just can't get it out of my mind. I recall all the bodies we saw on the beach covered with beach towels. I feel like we have been given another life," she said.

Her husband, originally from Bhadran in Gujarat, runs a corner shop in Milton area of Cambridgeshire and she continues to be haunted with the feeling of being unsafe even in her home when he leaves for work.

"I feel really sorry for the Tunisian people who were just amazing. They stood up like shields to save people and today they are suffering with no jobs," Pallavi said.

The Patels were part of a large group of package holiday-makers from Britain organised by Thomson. They have now been refunded their money and are being offered constant counseling.

The UK Foreign Office issued a fresh warning this week to all British nationals in Tunisia to leave the country as a further terrorist attack is "highly likely". It is estimated there are up to 3,000 UK tourists still in Tunisia and a few hundred British residents.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a permanent memorial dedicated to the 30 British victims of the attack, described as the worst attack on Britons since the July 7 bombings on the London transport network in 2005.

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