Tunisia terror attack: Sheffield woman ‘looked terrorist in the face’

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A Sheffield woman has said that she looked a ‘terrorist in the face’ after a hotel she is staying in was attacked by gunmen which has left 37 people dead.

Julie Spafford, from Sheffield, posted on social media about her ordeal which left ‘blood and bullet holes’ scattered through the hotel in the popular tourist destination of Sousse in Tunisia.

Julie described the horrific terror attack at the hotel.

She said: “We got to our room and armed soldiers came in the room and searched everywhere.

“It’s like watching a film I want to wake up from dreaming.

“The silence is scary, I’ve never been so frightened I want to come home.

“We are the lucky ones, please God get us home safe.”

British authorities and Thompson Holidays are trying now to sort the family a flight back home.

Julie added: “Unbelievable atmosphere of grief and numbness it just does not seem real.

“Bullet holes and blood so tragic.

“I cannot believe I looked a terrorist in the face.

“Thank god we got to safety.”

The slaughter happened when gunmen exchanged fire with security services on the busy beach in the town of Sousse, a popular destination for holidaymakers from the UK and Ireland.

At least five Britons have been confirmed dead in the terrorist attack on a Tunisian holiday resort, with the death toll expected to rise.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said because the resort is popular with holidaymakers from the UK “we have to assume that a high proportion of those killed and injured will have been British”.

The country’s Health Ministry confirmed that those killed included Britons, Tunisians, Germans and Belgians.

An Irish woman is understood to be among the 37 victims massacred in the gun attack, an Irish government source said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui said: “A terrorist infiltrated the buildings from the back before opening fire on the residents of the hotel, including foreigners and Tunisians.”

Those killed are more likely to be foreign as the local Muslim population is less likely to go to the beach during the holy month of Ramadan.

Pictures posted on social media appeared to show the body of a man face down in the sand with empty sun loungers behind him.

Elizabeth O’Brien, an Irish woman on holiday with her two sons in the resort, described how she grabbed her children and ran for their lives when they heard gunfire erupting from one of the hotels.

“We were on the beach, my sons were in the sea and I just got out of the sea.

“It was about 12 o’clock and I just looked up about 500 metres from me and I saw a (hot air) balloon collapse down, then rapid firing, then I saw two of the people who were going to go up in the balloon start to run towards me - because I thought it was fireworks,’’ the Dubliner told RTE Radio.

“So, I thought ‘Oh my God, it sounds like gunfire’, so I just ran to the sea to my children and grabbed our things and as I was running towards the hotel, the waiters and the security on the beach started saying ‘run, run run!’ and we just ran to our room, which is like a little bungalow.

Tourist Gary Pine told Sky News: “We saw what we thought was firecrackers going off so we thought someone was celebrating.

“But you could see then quite quickly the panic that was starting to ensue from the next resort along from us, which is about 100 yards away, and so then people started exiting the beach pretty quickly, but only when you can start hearing bullets around your ears did you start to realise it was something more serious than firecrackers.”

Tension has been high in Tunisia since an attack on the National Bardo Museum in March which killed 22 people, mostly foreign tourists including a Briton.

A suicide bomber blew himself up in a failed attack on the beach in Sousse in October 2013, while 21 people lost their lives in an attack in the country earlier this year.

The country has undergone unprecedented social and political change since the 2011 uprisings and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office says there is a ‘’high’’ threat from terrorism.

Sousse is a city on the east coast of Tunisia, about 87 miles (140km) south of the capital, Tunis. Around 1.2 million tourists visit Sousse every year, drawn by the hotels, sandy beaches and culture.