A “MUCH-LOVED” British woman was killed during a terrorist attack at an archaeological museum in Tunisia which has been claimed by Islamic State.
Mother-of-two Sally Adey, 57, was among at least 23 people killed yesterday during the assault by two gunmen on the Bardo Museum in the capital Tunis.
Mrs Adey, a solicitor from Shropshire, was on an excursion with her husband Robert at the time of the attack. He is believed to be unharmed.
The couple were on a holiday cruise aboard the MSC Splendida, which docked at the port in Tunis early yesterday.
Islamic State issued a statement claiming responsibility for the killings today.
The jihadi group called the attack a “blessed invasion of one of the dens of infidels and vice in Muslim Tunisia”.
It claimed that the two attackers were not killed until they ran out of bullets and promised further attacks.
According to US-based SITE Intelligence Group, it said: “Wait for the glad tidings of what will harm you, impure ones, for what you have seen today is the first drop of the rain.”
Julia Holden, a close friend of the Adey family and partner at Shakespeares Solicitors in Birmingham where Mr Adey works, issued a statement on their behalf.
She said: “Sally Adey was a much-loved daughter, wife and mother. The family are devastated by her loss.
“They are also saddened for others who have lost people they love, and for those who have been hurt.”
David Crawshaw, who was the Adeys’ neighbour in Shifnal, Shropshire, for more than a decade, said of the couple: “They were both solicitors and they have got a son and daughter - Harry and Molly - who are in their early 20s.
“They were really the sort of neighbours you want, a fine, hard-working family, and Sally will be missed by us.”
Tunisia’s health minister said 18 foreign tourists were killed during the attack, including visitors from Japan, Italy, Colombia, Australia, France and Poland.
Said Aidi told a press conference that five Tunisians also died, including the two gunmen.
Nine people have been arrested in connection with the attack, Tunisian officials said.
Five of those arrested were directly connected to the operation, while four others were linked to the attackers and were based outside the capital.
Moncef Hamdoun, an official with the Charles Nicolle hospital where many victims were taken, said seven of the dead remain unidentified.
Tunisian authorities identified the two gunmen as Yassine Laabidi and Hatem Khachnaoui.
Laabidi was known to Tunisian intelligence services, the country’s prime minister Habib Essid confirmed.
UK holiday companies Thomson and First Choice said they had cancelled excursions to Tunis “for the coming days”.
The companies said its holidaymakers were in beach resorts rather than Tunis, with the cancellations being made “as a precaution”.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “These terrorist attacks yesterday in Tunisia were an appalling and brutal outrage.
“In the end our values - freedom of speech, democracy, the rule of law - they will win through.
“We must show the persistence and consistency to make sure they do, but I’m confident they will.”
MSC Cruises confirmed that the Adeys were among 79 UK passengers - as well as 10 from the Republic of Ireland - aboard the Splendida.
The company, which has suspended stops in Tunis for its vessels, said Mr Adey was receiving support from the MSC Cruises customer care team in Tunis.
At mid-afternoon UK time, the firm said 12 of its passengers had been killed in the attack - two Colombians, three French, three Japanese, two Spanish, one Briton and one Belgian.
It added that 13 passengers had been injured - two seriously. They are one Belgian, seven French, four Japanese and one South African.
The Splendida left its home port of Genoa in Italy on a seven-night cruise last Saturday.
Also among the ship’s passengers were a Spanish man and his pregnant wife who survived by hiding in the museum for almost 24 hours.
They were named as Cristina Rubio Benlloch and Juan Carlos Sanchez Oltra, from Valencia on Spain’s eastern coast.
Mrs Rubio is understood to be four months pregnant and was taken by ambulance to hospital for a check-up.
MSC said: “Cristina, who is pregnant, was immediately taken in observation to the hospital. Both her and the child are reported well.”
The Bardo Museum has one of the most important collections in the Mediterranean and traces Tunisia’s history over thousands of years through archaeological pieces.
Among its treasures is one of the largest collections of Roman mosaics in the world.
In a statement, Bishop of Lincoln the Rt Rev Christopher Lowson said: “I was very deeply saddened and shocked when I heard of the terrible events in Tunisia, and subsequently learned about the impact that has had on the community of Scothern, where Sally Adey’s family lives.
“For a holiday to end in such appalling circumstances is beyond anything that we could imagine. My prayers, and the prayers of our diocese are with Sally’s family, for Robert and Joan and the community of Scothern, and all those who have been particularly affected by this atrocity.”
He added that it was important to remember that the events in Tunisia were not in the name of the majority of peace-loving Muslim people “but the work of a small number of very badly misguided extremists”.