Tunisia arrests suspects associated with beach hotel attacker

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Tunisian Authorities Hunt for Accomplices in Beach Attack

Tunisian authorities have arrested a group of suspects associated with the gunman who killed 39 people, mainly British tourists, in a beach hotel attack claimed by Islamic State, the interior minister said on Monday.

British interior minister Theresa May, and her French and German counterparts, visited the site of the attack near the Imperial Marhaba hotel in the resort town of Sousse, laying flowers on the beach. They promised Tunisia help in security, intelligence, police training and to help keep tourism alive.

Tourism Police, armed with handguns and rifles, patrolled the waterfront where some European tourists remained amid the parasols and bouquets scattered in the sand.

See photos from the horrific attack:

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Tunisia terrorist attack, Sousse Beach
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Tunisia arrests suspects associated with beach hotel attacker
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 26: A suspect man is arrested after an armed attack on a tourist hotel in Sousse, east Tunisia, left at least 27 people dead, including foreigners, and injured six others , on June 26, 2015. (Photo by Med Amine Ben Aziza /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Security measures are taken after an armed attack on a tourist hotel in Sousse, east Tunisia, left at least 27 people dead, including foreigners, and injured six others , on June 26, 2015. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
The bodies of people are seen after an armed attack on a tourist hotel in Sousse, east Tunisia, left at least 27 people dead, including foreigners, and injured six others , on June 26, 2015. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Wounded people are carried after an armed attack on a tourist hotel in Sousse, east Tunisia, left at least 27 people dead, including foreigners, and injured six others , on June 26, 2015. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
In this screen grab taken from video provided by Tunisia TV1, injured people are treated on a Tunisian beach Friday June 26, 2015. Two gunmen rushed from the beach into a hotel in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse Friday, killing at least 27 people and wounding six others in the latest attack on the North African country's key tourism industry, the Interior Ministry said. (Tunisia TV1 via AP)
In this screen grab taken from video provided by Tunisia TV1, injured people are treated on a Tunisian beach Friday June 26, 2015. Two gunmen rushed from the beach into a hotel in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse Friday, killing at least 27 people and wounding six others in the latest attack on the North African country's key tourism industry, the Interior Ministry said. (Tunisia TV1 via AP 
In this screen grab taken from video provided by Tunisia TV1, injured people are treated on a Tunisian beach Friday June 26, 2015. Two gunmen rushed from the beach into a hotel in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse Friday, killing at least 27 people and wounding six others in the latest attack on the North African country's key tourism industry, the Interior Ministry said. (Tunisia TV1 via AP) 
In this screen grab taken from video provided by Tunisia TV1, injured people are treated on a Tunisian beach Friday June 26, 2015. Two gunmen rushed from the beach into a hotel in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse Friday, killing at least 27 people and wounding six others in the latest attack on the North African country's key tourism industry, the Interior Ministry said. (Tunisia TV1 via AP)
Bodies are covered on a Tunisian beach, in Sousse, Friday June 26, 2015. A young man unfurled an umbrella and pulled out a Kalashnikov, opening fire on European sunbathers in an attack that killed at least 28 people at a Tunisian beach resort — one of three deadly attacks from Europe to the Middle East on Friday that followed a call to violence by Islamic State extremists. (Jawhara FM via AP)
Armed forces patrol the area near a Tunisian beach, in Sousse, Friday June 26, 2015. A young man unfurled an umbrella and pulled out a Kalashnikov, opening fire on European sunbathers in an attack that killed at least 28 people at a Tunisian beach resort — one of three deadly attacks from Europe to the Middle East on Friday that followed a call to violence by Islamic State extremists. (Jawhara FM via AP)
An injured person is treated on a Tunisian beach, in Sousse, Friday June 26, 2015. A young man unfurled an umbrella and pulled out a Kalashnikov, opening fire on European sunbathers in an attack that killed at least 28 people at a Tunisian beach resort — one of three deadly attacks from Europe to the Middle East on Friday that followed a call to violence by Islamic State extremists. (Jawhara FM via AP)
Blood and material on the ground near the area where an attack took place in Sousse, Tunisia, Friday June 26, 2015. A young man unfurled an umbrella and pulled out a Kalashnikov, opening fire on European sunbathers in an attack that killed at least 28 people at a Tunisian beach resort — one of three deadly attacks from Europe to the Middle East on Friday that followed a call to violence by Islamic State extremists. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)
Map locates Sousse, Tunisia, where gunmen killed several people.; 1c x 3 inches; 46.5 mm x 76 mm;
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Interior Minister Najem Gharsalli gave no details of those arrested and said officials were checking whether gunman Saif Rezgui had been trained in neighboring Libya in jihadist camps.

Forensic evidence shows Rezgui, a student who gave few clues to family and friends that he had been radicalized, was probably the only gunman, though others may have been involved in planning and organizing the attack.

"We will find all those involved, whether it was just logistical support or not," the Tunisian minister said, flanked by ministers from Britain, France and Germany.

LONE GUNMAN?

Tunisia, which had a relatively peaceful transition to democracy after its 2011 "Arab Spring" uprising, has one of the most secular state structures in the Arab world. But it is also struggling with a rise in Islamist militancy.

Islamist jihadists have hit North African tourist sites before in Tunisia and Morocco, seeing them as legitimate targets because of their open Western lifestyles, free mixing of the sexes and tolerance of alcohol.

The number of Britons confirmed killed by the Islamist gunman in Friday's attack has risen to 18 from 15 and the final death toll of Britons is likely to increase to around 30 people, a British spokeswoman said.

British police are in Tunisia helping in the process of formally identifying victims.

"What happened here last Friday was a despicable act of cruelty," British minister May told reporters. "How could a place of such beauty, of relaxation, be turned into a scene of brutality and destruction?

"We have discussed concrete ways in which we can share our expertise in which we can help each other in dealing with this terrible threat we all face."

Mourners come together in the wake of the tragedy:

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Tunisia attack memorials, terrorism
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Tunisia arrests suspects associated with beach hotel attacker
A man kisses a Tunisian flag at the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 28, 2015. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility on June 27 for the massacre in the seaside resort that killed nearly 40 people, most of them British tourists, in the worst attack in the country's recent history. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 28: Flowers and tributes are left at Marhaba beach near to where 38 people were killed on Friday in a terrorist attack on June 28, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Sousse beaches remain quiet following the Tunisia beach attack which left 38 dead, including at least 15 Britons while numerous tourists returned to the UK with more set to follow in the coming days. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 28: A candle and flowers are left at Marhaba beach near to where 38 people were killed on Friday in a terrorist attack on June 28, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Sousse beaches remain quiet following the Tunisia beach attack which left 38 dead, including at least 15 Britons while numerous tourists returned to the UK with more set to follow in the coming days. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A flower lays on a beach was the site of a shooting attack in Sousse, Tunisia, Saturday, June 27, 2015. The morning after a lone gunman killed dozens of people at a beach resort in Tunisia, busloads of tourists are heading to the nearby Enfidha-Hammamet airport hoping to return to their home countries. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 27: A woman grieves as she lay flowers at the beach next to the Imperial Marhaba Hotel where 38 people were killed yesterday in a terrorist attack on June 27, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Habib Essid Prime Minister of Tunisia announced a clampdown on security after the attack on a holiday resort.. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Tourists mourn at the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 28, 2015. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility on June 27 for the massacre in the seaside resort that killed nearly 40 people, most of them British tourists, in the worst attack in the country's recent history. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Flower bouqets are seen at the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 28, 2015. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility on June 27 for the massacre in the seaside resort that killed nearly 40 people, most of them British tourists, in the worst attack in the country's recent history. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 27: People view flowers placed at the beach next to the Imperial Marhaba Hotel where 38 people were killed yesterday in a terrorist attack on June 27, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Habib Essid Prime Minister of Tunisia announced a clampdown on security after the attack on a holiday resort.. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 28: Tourists carry a Tunisian flag along Marhaba beach where 38 people were killed on Friday in a terrorist attack on June 28, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Sousse beaches remain quiet following the Tunisia beach attack which left 38 dead, including at least 15 Britons. Around 1,000 tourists returned to the UK with more set to follow in the coming days. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 28: Holidaymakers view flowers left on Marhaba beach where 38 people were killed on Friday in a terrorist attack on June 28, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Sousse beaches remain quiet following the Tunisia beach attack which left 38 dead, including at least 15 Britons. Around 1,000 tourists returned to the UK with more set to follow in the coming days. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Camels are seen walking past flower bouquets at the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 28, 2015. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility on June 27 for the massacre in the seaside resort that killed nearly 40 people, most of them British tourists, in the worst attack in the country's recent history. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 28: Armed police on patrol on Marhaba beach pass by tributes left to the 38 people killed on Friday in a terrorist attack on June 28, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Sousse beaches remain quiet following the Tunisia beach attack which left 38 dead, including at least 15 Britons. Around 1,000 tourists returned to the UK with more set to follow in the coming days. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Tourists look at flowers at the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 28, 2015. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility on June 27 for the massacre in the seaside resort that killed nearly 40 people, most of them British tourists, in the worst attack in the country's recent history. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 28: Tourists carry a Tunisian flag along Marhaba beach where 38 people were killed on Friday in a terrorist attack on June 28, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Sousse beaches remain quiet following the Tunisia beach attack which left 38 dead, including at least 15 Britons. Around 1,000 tourists returned to the UK with more set to follow in the coming days. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Tourists mourn at the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 28, 2015. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility on June 27 for the massacre in the seaside resort that killed nearly 40 people, most of them British tourists, in the worst attack in the country's recent history. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
SOUSSE, TUNISIA - JUNE 27: A man and woman place flowers at the beach next to the Imperial Marhaba Hotel where 38 people were killed yesterday in a terrorist attack on June 27, 2015 in Souuse, Tunisia. Habib Essid Prime Minister of Tunisia announced a clampdown on security after the attack on a holiday resort. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Tourists take part in a gathering in solidarity with Tunisia's tourism industry, on June 29, 2015 on the island of Djerba, following a deadly gun attack at a holiday resort near Sousse. Tunisia said it had made its first arrests after a beach massacre on June 26 that killed 38 people, as European officials paid tribute to victims of the country's worst jihadist attack. AFP PHOTO / FETHI NASRI (Photo credit should read FETHI NASRI/AFP/Getty Images)
British Home Secretary Theresa May (2nd L), Tunisian Interior Minister Mohamed Najem Gharsalli (C), German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere (2nd R) and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (R) give a press conference in the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 29, 2015. Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May vowed that 'the terrorists will not win' after paying tribute in Tunisia to the 38 people, mainly Britons, killed by a jihadist gunman. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
(L to R bottom) French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, Tunisian Interior minister Mohamed Najem Gharsalli and British Home Secretary Theresa May lay flowers on the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 29, 2015. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility on June 27 for the massacre in the seaside resort that killed nearly 40 people, most of them British tourists, in the worst attack in the country's recent history. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
WALSALL, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Flowers and football tributes are laid outside Walsall Football Club in memory of, Adrian Evans, Patrick Evans and Joel Richards who were among 38 people who killed in a terrorist attack in Sousse, Tunisia on June 29, 2015 in Walsall, England. Owen Richards, aged 16, was injured in the attack but witnessed his brother Joel, 19, uncle Adrian, 49, and grandad Patrick Evans, 79, being killed by the gunman. A total of 38 people, the majority of them British, were killed by a gunmen in an attack on a beach in the Tunisian resort of Sousse. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A British resident of Sousse, who refused to be identified, reacts during a gathering at the scene of the attack in Sousse, Tunisia, Sunday, June 28, 2015. The Friday attack on tourists at a beach is expected to be a huge blow to Tunisia's tourism sector, which made up nearly 15 percent of the country's gross domestic product in 2014. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
A women holds candle during a protest against terrorism in Sousse, Tunisia, Saturday, June 27, 2015. The morning after a lone gunman killed at tens of people at a beach resort in Tunisia, busloads of tourists are heading to the nearby Enfidha-Hammamet airport hoping to return to their home countries. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
An unidentified tourist reacts as she passes next to the scene of Friday's shooting attack in the coastal town of Sousse, Tunisia, Sunday, June 28, 2015. The Friday attack on tourists at a beach is expected to be a huge blow to Tunisia's tourism sector, which made up nearly 15 percent of the country's gross domestic product in 2014. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
Flowers are laid at the scene of Friday's shooting attack in the coastal town of Sousse, Tunisia, Saturday, June 27, 2015. Tunisia's prime minister announced on Saturday a string of new security measures including closing renegade mosques and calling up army reservists as thousands of tourists fled the North African country in wake of its worst terrorist attack ever. Tourists crowded into the airport at Hammamet near the coastal city of Sousse where a young man dressed in shorts on Friday pulled an assault rifle and grenades out of his beach umbrella and killed 38 people, mostly tourists. (AP Photo/Leila Khemissi)
Flowers at the scene of the shooting in Sousse, Tunisia, Saturday, June 27, 2015. The morning after a lone gunman killed tens of people at a beach resort in Tunisia, busloads of tourists are heading to the nearby Enfidha-Hammamet airport hoping to return to their home countries. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A candle and a note in German reading, "Mourning cannot be seen, not heard, can only be felt. It is a fog without contour. One would like to grasp this fog and pull it away. But the hand grabs into emptiness", at the scene of Friday's shooting attack in Sousse, Tunisia, Saturday, June 27, 2015. The morning after a lone gunman killed dozens of people at a beach resort in Tunisia, busloads of tourists are heading to the nearby Enfidha-Hammamet airport hoping to return to their home countries. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A British family, who witnessed the beach massacre by a jihadists gunman the previous week, lay flowers at the site of the attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 30, 2015. Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi has admitted security services were not prepared for the beach attack, as authorities warned the country is likely to lose more than half-a-billion dollars in tourism revenues. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
A British family, who witnessed the beach massacre by a jihadists gunman the previous week, mourn as they lay flowers at the site of the attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 30, 2015. Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi has admitted security services were not prepared for the beach attack, as authorities warned the country is likely to lose more than half-a-billion dollars in tourism revenues. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
WALSALL, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Flowers and football tributes are laid outside Walsall Football Club in memory of, Adrian Evans, Patrick Evans and Joel Richards who were among 38 people who killed in a terrorist attack in Sousse, Tunisia on June 29, 2015 in Walsall, England. Owen Richards, aged 16, was injured in the attack but witnessed his brother Joel, 19, uncle Adrian, 49, and grandad Patrick Evans, 79, being killed by the gunman. A total of 38 people, the majority of them British, were killed by a gunman in an attack on a beach in the Tunisian resort of Sousse. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Flower bouquets are seen at the site of a shooting attack on the beach in front of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port el Kantaoui, on the outskirts of Sousse south of the capital Tunis, on June 29, 2015. Tunisia said it had made its first arrests after a beach massacre that killed 38 people, as European officials paid tribute to victims of the country's worst jihadist attack. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
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French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said cooperation could include intelligence-sharing and coordination with frontier police and airport security.

Tour companies have helped thousands of tourists leave Tunisia since Friday's attack on a country that relies heavily on tourism for jobs and foreign currency revenues.

Rezgui, the gunman, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, opened fire with a rifle he had hidden in an umbrella at British, German, Belgian and Irish tourists as they lounged at the beach and pool.

The attack came three months after two gunmen killed 21 people at the Bardo Museum in Tunis. Both had spent time with Tunisian jihadists training in neighboring Libya.

"There is a large possibility that he was in Libya for about a month this year for training," said a security source with knowledge of the investigation. "We are still confirming that."

In turmoil amid a conflict between two rival governments, Libya has increasingly become a haven for Islamist militant groups who have profited from the chaos to seek shelter.

More than 3,000 Tunisians have left to fight for Islamist militant groups in Syria and Iraq, and increasingly in Libya, where some have set up training camps for jihadis or taken a leading role in Islamic State ranks there.

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