Tunisian police accused of 'cowardice' during Sousse attack

Tunisian police are accused of 'cowardice' in response to Sousse attack. Credit: PA

Tunisian police and security teams have been accused of "cowardice" during the Sousse attack which left 38 people, including 30 Britons, dead.

The inquest into the deaths of the Britons at the Royal Courts of Justice was told lives would have been saved if not for a "deliberate and unjustifiable" delay by Tunisian law enforcement units to intervene.

Those were the findings of Tunisian Judge Akremi who carried out an initial investigation into the police response soon after the attack.

Judge Akremi concluded that the police and security teams' slow response "amounts to an offence".

He had examined cameras which "showed that the tourist security team vehicle patrol and bike patrol deliberately slowed down and did not intervene to stop the terrorist attack at that time".

He explained that this patrol was "prepared and equipped to intervene", but did not do so and said it committed "what is considered a serious mistake".

The report summary said the attack started at about 11.45am and ended at about 12.25pm, taking 40 minutes to "neutralise the terrorist".

Reasons for delays by various security teams in arriving at the scene of the June 2015 attack were outlined in the summary.

A delay for one unit was "due to lack of clarity of information", while another responder "deliberated over whether the intervention would be effective".

The inquest heard that quad bike units were delayed due to them being in "very poor condition" and "incapable of driving over sand".

The delay of those on horseback was said to be due to "caution" they had shown in getting there after hearing the terrorist was armed with a Kalashnikov.

Thirty-eight people, including 30 Britons, were killed during the Sousse attack. Credit: ITV News

The inquest heard from the head of the operations room for the Northern Sousse National Security as part of the Akremi report summary.

That person, whose role was to coordinate the various security authorities, said the refusal to intervene to stop the attack was "due to simple cowardice, when they could have prevented the loss of life".

According to evidence in the report summary, guards were present on the beach but did not intervene.

The summary said: "The guards were armed with Steyr assault rifles and would have been in a position to stop the attack at the very beginning."