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  1. ITV Report

Belgian victim of Tunisia massacre tells of moment his wife was shot dead in front of him

Hilda and Gabriel Verfaillie, from Antwerp, were on a cruise that included a stopover in Tunisia Credit: ITV News

By Jonathan Wald and Rageh Omaar in Tunisia

Gabriel Verfaillie, a 61 year old tourist from Antwerp, sits in a hospital bed - his legs bandaged and swollen from bullet wounds. He looks forlorn and yet is determined to tell his story.

He has lived to tell a harrowing account of the massacre in Tunisia.

Two days ago, Gabriel and his wife, Hilda, stepped off their cruise ship to visit the Bardo Museum in Tunis. A few hours later his wife was murdered in front of him and he was shot four times.

As we were with him, devastated friends called to pay their respects and try to give him strength.

Hilda Verfaillie was shot four times in the attack on Bardo Museum Credit: ITV News

He described seeing the two Islamic State killers as they stood a few feet from him. "They were young, with no beards, they looked quite normal and wore beige-coloured clothes," he said.

Gabriel Verfaillie was shot four times in the legs and his wife was killed in front of him in Tunis massacre Credit: ITV News

Gabriel and his wife hid in a room with other tourists but the gunfire came ever closer. The terrorists stormed in, firing bullets everywhere. He remembers seeing blood pouring from a woman shot next to him. He was then hit in the legs and he passed out. After an hour the police came.

"That’s when I realised my wife had died", he said. "She’d been shot in the head."

The MSC Splendida, a cruise ship in which twelve of the victims of the attack on the national museum of Tunisia were travelling Credit: Reuters

Despite the horrors he has endured, and despite having to endure them alone, Gabriel manages to be heartfelt in his assessment of Tunisians.

I truly feel the Tunisian people are really with me.

There was nothing they could have done - I don’t know about the troubles within Tunisian society - I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

– Gabriel Verfaillie

Tunisians have been visiting injured tourists in hospital to express how the majority are appalled at what happened. A young woman bringing flowers broke down in tears as she told Gabriel at how heartbroken she was for his loss.

"Don't cry," Gabriel implored. "You'll make me cry - I've already had to say goodbye to my wife."

A Tunisian woman comforts Gabriel Verfaillie in hospital Credit: ITV News

It was a poignant moment of solidarity in the face of hatred.

As we left, his son-in-law was about to arrive to help Gabriel return to Belgium early next week - a frightful trip he must make without his wife and one he could never have imagined when he set sail on his cruise with Hilda.

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