Family and friends of a Lincolnshire woman killed in the Tunisian beach massacre have told of their grief and shock at herdeaths as Scotland Yard mounted its biggest counter-terrorism operation since the 7/7 bombings.
There were at least 18 Britons among the 39 people killed in Seifeddine Rezgui’s attack on holiday makers in the resort of Sousse on Friday.
Claire Windass, 54, a mother, from Barnetby, was among those who died.
Rezgui targeted western tourists with a Kalashnikov rifle on the beach outside the RIU Imperial Marhaba and Bellevue hotels. His killing spree only ended when he was shot dead by police. A bomb was found on his body.
Mrs Windass’s family and friends are coming to terms with their loss.
She was on the beach with her husband when the attack happened. Her husband Jim, 66, has returned home from Tunisia.
Speaking from their home in Hull his son Steven, 29 said: “My Dad got back in the early hours of this morning. He just wants to sleep.
“He is too upset to talk to anyone right now.”
A friend of Mrs Windass’s daughter, Eve Marshall, said: “Claire was the loveliest lady, one of the nicest ladies you would ever meet. I heard the news on Friday – so tragic. I just can’t believe she’s gone. I was absolutely devastated when I heard.”
Scotland Yard said more than 600 officers were involved in what was its largest counter-terrorism operation since the 7/7 bombings.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said 16 detectives and forensic experts were already in Tunisia with almost 400 meeting survivors at UK airports to identify possible witnesses.
The Queen has sent her condolences to the families of those killed, saying the brutal attack had left her and the Duke of Edinburgh “shocked”. She also sent her deepest sympathy to those injured.
As tributes were paid to the victims by family and friends, Buckingham Palace released a statement from the Queen saying: “Prince Philip and I were shocked to learn of the attack on British tourists in Tunisia on Friday.
“We send our sincere condolences to the families of those who were killed and our deepest sympathy to the people who are still fighting for their lives in hospital, and those who have been seriously injured.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those of all countries who have been affected by this terrible event.”
There has been an agonising wait for many waiting to hear news of their relatives but there has also been relief for those able to find out that their loved ones out in Tunisia are safe.