Irish tourist 'trapped in hotel' as gunmen attack Tunisian resort hotel

An Irish woman on holiday with her two sons in Sousse has described how she grabbed her children and ran for their lives when they heard gunfire erupting from one of the hotels.

At least seven people have been killed in a terror attack on two hotels in the Tunisian tourist resort.

A gunman was reportedly shot dead.

“We were on the beach, my sons were in the sea and I just got out of the sea,” Dubliner Elizabeth O'Brien told RTE Radio.

* Skip to around 1.00 to hear Irish tourist Elizabeth O'Brien’s account of the attacks in Sousse

“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

“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.

“So we are actually trapped in our room.”

Ms O’Brien said the Irish consul in Madrid, Spain, called her to say it was a terrorist attack in the hotel next door and told her to stay where she was.

“My travel agent told me to go to the reception to speak to the rep, but I’m afraid. I’m stuck in the room with my two sons, not knowing what’s going on,” she said.

It is believed there are scores of Irish holidaymakers in Sousse at the moment.

The Department of Foreign Affairs could not immediately confirm the number of citizens in the resort, it said there were no reports at this stage of any Irish hurt.

“Our embassy in Madrid and our Honorary Consul in Tunis are monitoring the situation in Sousse, Tunisia and are providing updates,” a spokeswoman said.

“We are currently not aware of any Irish citizens involved in the incident.

“Anyone with concerns about family or friends can call the Department on 01 408 2000.”

The Department is due to issue a further statement shortly.

RTÉ understands that two Irish companies charter holidays to the resort of Sousse.

One of those companies has confirmed to RTÉ that at least 60 Irish people travelled to the resort earlier this week. The number of Irish in Sousse from the other company is not known at this time.

The Irish Examiner has also tried to contact the Ireland's Honorary Consul in Tunisia, as Ireland does not have an embassy in the country, but those attempts have proved unsuccessful so far.

Sunway, a Dublin-based travel agency which organises holidays to Sousse, said it was trying to find out information from its representatives there.

“We are in touch with our reps in the resort and with the Tourist Board and are currently gathering as much information as we can,” a spokeswoman said. “Sunway will be making a statement very shortly.”

In a brief statement, Sunway said: “In relation to the incident in Tunisia earlier today, Sunway Holidays is working in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs and relevant parties.

“Our primary concern is our customers in the resort and we are monitoring the situation closely.

“Further updates when information becomes available.”

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