UK-Tunisia Attack Death Toll Rises

By Rowan Williams
  • – 30 Britons killed in Tunisia terror attack
  • – Stocks slide as Greek banks shut over crisis
  • – China will hold 30.34 percent AIIB stake


Home Secretary Theresa May will travel to Tunisia on Monday, following a terrorist attack on the country on Friday that killed 38 tourists, around 30 of them British nationals. May will also meet with victims’ relatives, and survivors of the attack. An RAF transport plane will fly to Tunisia on Monday to help evacuate casualties, and may also be used to repatriate the bodies of UK casualties from the attack. Tunisian authorities are now looking into the activities of the housemates of gunman Seifeddine Rezqui, over allegations that Rezqui had not acted alone. Islamic extremist group the Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred on a beach near Sousse. Tunisians, Irish, one Belgian and one German are also among the victims of the attack. Victims’ relatives have been critical of the speed of the identification process by Tunisian authorities. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Prime Minister David Cameron called the fight against IS “the struggle of our generation”. The Prime Minister also warned that IS fighters in Iraq and Syria were plotting attacks on UK soil.

Stock markets have fallen across Asia and Europe, after Greece’s economic crisis worsened over the weekend. Banks have closed across Greece, after the European Central Bank (ECB) decided not to extend emergency bailout funding into July. Greece is due to make a €1.6 billion debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday, with its current bailout due to expire on the same day. Greece requires further bailout funding to make the repayment, but negotiations with creditors have failed to produce an agreement. The crisis could force Greece to leave the eurozone. A Greek referendum on bailout terms is to be held on 5 July, but Greece does not currently have the bailout funding to last it to that day. Greece has also limited cash withdrawals to €60 a day. Analysts expect European stock markets to be able to survive any short-term volatility from the Greek economic crisis.

China will hold a 30.34 percent stake in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), it was announced on Monday. The announcement came following a signing ceremony for the AIIB attended by 50 member countries, including the UK. China’s stake in the bank will give it just over 26 percent of the voting rights in the institution. India will be the second largest member nation of the bank. While come concerns for China’s economic growth persist, China’s banks have shown strong performance, with a survey on Monday showing Chinese banks to be the best capitalised and biggest profit makers in the world in 2014.

The Papers

Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia continues to make the headlines on Monday, with 30 Britons now believed to have been killed in the attack. The Times leads with news that UK counter-terrorism police are “on alert amid fears of UK attack”. Sub-machineguns have been smuggled into the UK, the paper reports, raising fears of an attack similar to Friday’s taking place. In addition to a possible UK attack, The Guardian writes in its headline of “fears” the UK death toll “will hit 30”. Almost 400 additional officers have been “deployed to UK airports” over security fears, while the delay in identifying victims of the attack has been blamed on “strict ID checks” required by Tunisia’s coroner. The Independent reports that the gunman in the Tunisian attack “may not have acted alone”. According to the paper, the young gunman’s housemates are “still at large” and are being hunted by the police. Greece also made a few headlines today: The Daily Telegraph leads with news that Athens is on the “brink of bankruptcy”, with banks closing as Greek savers try to withdraw savings. Europe has refused to extend emergency funding to Greece. Tourists to Greece are being told “not to rely on credit cards”, the paper reports. The Financial Times writes that Greek banks are closing “to head off chaos as bailout talks break down”. The breakdown has pushed Greece nearer to a “potential eurozone exit”, the paper writes.

British Media on China

On the AIIB: the official launch of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) at a signing ceremony in Beijing received some coverage from UK media. The BBC writes that the bank is both a diplomatic and economic “win” for China, allowing Chinese engineering firms to continue to grow while developing Asia “with Chinese influence at its core”. While some have criticised the bank as China “flexing” its muscles, the AIIB is a natural response from China for feeling underrepresented in global financial institutions, the BBC writes. The Financial Times writes that the bank shows “China’s new ambition” in developing “financial diplomacy and global economic governance”.

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