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Tunisia beach attack: ‘Mastermind’ named

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A BBC investigation has identified the man accused of organising the terror attack on a beach that killed 38 people in Tunisia.

Chamseddine al-Sandi is described as the “mastermind” behind the attack in documents obtained by Panorama.

He is named in confessions from suspects who were arrested in connection with the shootings.

Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire on the beach and in the Imperial Hotel near Sousse in June 2015.

Rezgui was killed at the scene, but the documents obtained by Panorama say that he was recruited and directed by al-Sandi.

The confessions say al-Sandi ran a militant cell responsible for both the Sousse shootings and the attack three months earlier at the Bardo National Museum in which 22 people died. Both attacks were claimed by the so-called Islamic State.

Seifeddine Rezgui on the beach
Image captionSeifeddine Rezgui killed 38 people in the Sousse attack in June 2015

The documents show how closely Rezgui worked with the Bardo gang – describing how he met with them in cafes and mosques in Tunis and how he trained alongside one of the Bardo gunmen in an IS camp in Libya.

According to the confessions, al-Sandi recruited the attackers, paid for them to go to Libya for training and gave them their orders.

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Al-Sandi is now believed to be on the run in Libya. The Tunisian authorities have issued warrants for his arrest in connection with both the Bardo and Sousse attacks, but the documents obtained by Panorama reveal the extent of his alleged involvement for the first time.

Nicki Duffield
Image captionNicki Duffield and her husband had booked their holiday to Sousse with Thomson

Of the 38 people who were killed in Sousse in June 2015, 30 were British, three were from Ireland, two were German, one was from Russia, one was Belgian and one was from Portugal.

The inquests into the deaths of the British tourists starts next week. But the lawyer representing many of the families told Panorama that he was unaware of al-Sandi’s involvement and had not seen his picture before.

“I have not seen that,” said Demetrius Danas. “If you are right, and the families see that, they will be shocked to see the face of the man who caused them so much sadness.”

 

Some of the families who were caught up in the Sousse attack have told Panorama that they were assured by tour operator Thomson that it was safe to travel to Tunisia.

Nicki Duffield said she rang Thomson repeatedly to check on the security situation after hearing about the Bardo museum attack.

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“I was just constantly asking: ‘Are we going to be safe, can you guarantee we are going to be safe?'” she said. “We were definitely told that there would be increased security.”

Alison Caine
Image captionAlison Caine had booked with Thomson to go to the Imperial Hotel at Sousse

Alison Caine also called Thomson because she was worried about going to Tunisia.

She said: “We called them after Bardo to make sure that it was still safe to travel and they reassured us it was and security had been stepped up. But I just wanted to make sure again the following month so we called them again just to double-check.”

Ms Caine said she felt reassured by Thomson: “Everything was fine, it was safe to travel. They were not doing any refunds or transfers.”

The families say they were told by the tour operator that if they cancelled they wouldn’t get their money back.

TUI, the travel company that owns Thomson, said it wants to understand the specific circumstances that led to the killings.

“We are cooperating fully with the Coroner and will continue to do so, in order to help ensure that the tragic deaths of those killed can be thoroughly investigated, the relevant facts determined and any lessons learned.”

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The company said it would be inappropriate to comment further before the inquests but it doesn’t accept the accuracy of all the statements that have been made.

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Oyo: Kidnapped UI student regains freedom

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Victim of Monday’s kidnap attack at a  poultry farm in Oke Odan, Apete area of Ibadan, Oyo capital, Emmanuel Odetunde has been released.

It will be recalled that Odetunde was abducted around 5 pm on Monday while working at his father’s poultry. The abductors also demanded a ransom of N100m for his release.

Mega Icon Magazine, however learnt that the victim , a student of the University of Ibadan (UI) was released at 7:15pm Thursday .

 

In a tweet obtained by our reporter, via his Twitter handle @dr_emmay thanked friends, family and well wishers  for their prayers.

He also did not disclosed whether any ransom was paid or not.

“I was released at 7:15pm today. I am currently with my family.

“Thanks for the prayers. I appreciate @, Odetunde tweeted.

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Insecurity: Bandits kill 18 in Kaduna communities

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No fewer than 18 people in Giwa, Chikun and Igabi local government areas of Kaduna State have been reportedly killed by Bandits .

The state’s Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, confirmed the ugly incident in a statement on Wednesday.

The three Local Government Areas, as learnt  have been under incessant attacks by bandits in recent time.

Aruwan, in the statement, explained that the bandits attacked Anaba village in Igabi local government area and killed seven people. He gave their names as Ali Musa, Isa Sharehu, Tijjani Isa, Auwalu Shehu, Hashim Abdullahi, Hassan Saidu and Umar Rilwanu.

According to him, many of the houses in the community were also burnt down by the bandits along with storehouses and barns, while they also rustled 20 cows during the operation.

The bandits, also attacked Barinje village in Chikun local government area killing eight persons, which included Sunday Gwamna, Lawal Jizo, Salha Barau, Sabo Barau, Umaru Barau, Muhammadu Dan Azumi, Zailani Dogara and Jikan Gambo.

The statement added that some residents of the village were also abducted, and cattle rustled during the attack, while an unspecified number of injured victims are currently receiving treatment in hospitals.

The  armed bandits, in another operation, attacked the loosely connected communities of Kwarten Rigasa, Kwarten Waziri and Kwarten Shaku in Igabi local government area.

The bandits reportedly emerged from the Buruku area, and raided the villages in a cattle rustling operation and In the process, killed one Danjuma Isa from neighboring Ungwan Kanti village as he made his way on foot to Kwarten Rigasa.

Similarly, armed bandits invaded Sanhu Makera village in Birnin Yero of Igabi local government area and killed one Yakubu Abdullahi, a farmer in the village, while

another person was killed by unknown assailants in unusual circumstances, at the Ministerial Pilot Housing Estate, Millennium City in Chikun local government area.

According to Aruwan, the attacks on soft targets at Anaba and Barinje villages in Igabi and Chikun LGAs respectively, followed the killing of several armed bandits through targeted air operations.

He disclosed that Air platforms had earlier conducted armed reconnaissance around Anaba village during which the crew observed houses on fire and locals migrating to nearby settlements.

He explains further that many bandits on motorcycles were neutralised by troops at Kankomi village and neighbouring communities as well as

Kuyanbana forest while many of them escaped with bullet wound.

The security agencies however appeal to the communities to report anyone found with suspicious bullet wounds to the Security Operations Room.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai has expressed sadness over the incidents and has sent his condolences to the families of all those killed in the attacks, while offering prayers for the repose of their souls. He also wishes the injured a quick recovery.

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Senate okays Bawa as new EFCC boss

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The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday confirmed Abdulrasheed Bawa as the new chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Bawa’s confirmation comes shortly after he appeared before the red chamber for his screening.

The new EFCC Chief was accompanied into the Senate Chambers by his family members and political associates.

The forty-year-old certified fraud examiner and anti-money laundering expert, as reliably gathered, has worked with the commission  for 16 years.

During his screening, he assured the lawmakers of his commitment to repositioning the commission by ensuring that the EFCC is in a better place before his tenure expires.

Bawa disclosed that he will work with strategic partners around the world to see that Nigeria benefits from the repatriation of assets stolen from her coffers.

“The EFCC will achieve its independent objective by sharing information with its partners”, he said.

The EFCC boss also promised that at the end of his tenure, the commission will be a better place than he met it, noting that his training by the FBI and the National Crime Agency of the United States and the United Kingdom respectively will come in handy. 

Responding to questions regarding what he will do differently from his predecessors, Mr. Bawa said he will reposition the commission by ensuring that it strengthens its standard operating procedures and improve on them.

He also stated that there will be more transparency and accountability.

While acknowledging that the EFFC has issues with the management of assets, the EFCC boss said he will embark on the digitization of the offices for proper record keeping.

He further noted that the constitution will guide his actions as EFCC Chairman.

He will be taking over from Mohammed Umar, who has been in an acting capacity since July 2020 after the suspension of Ibrahim Magu over allegations of gross misconduct.

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