Tunisia attack: North Walsham woman 'saved' by handbag

Tony Callaghan in hospital
Image caption Tony Callaghan shows the glasses case and bag which he says could have saved his wife's life

A Briton who survived the Tunisian attack said his wife's life could have been saved when bullets struck her handbag.

The Foreign Office has confirmed 15 Britons have died following the attack on a beach resort in Sousse on Friday.

Tony Callaghan, a police support worker from Norfolk, and his wife Chris, are being treated for gunshot wounds.

He said the bullet went through her bag and hit her glasses case, before striking her in the leg.

The couple, aged in their 60s and from North Walsham, were staying at the Imperial Hotel for the third time and were by the pool when loud bangs echoed around the beach.

Mr Callaghan told BBC correspondent Mark Lowen his wife's handbag took the impact of the bullet, which shattered the lens of her glasses before striking her leg.

Describing the attack, Mr Callaghan said: "A lot of people thought there were fireworks going off. I'm ex-military, so I knew that wasn't fireworks and that was gunshots.

"So I told people and my wife to start running up towards the hotel."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Chris and Tony Callaghan in a Sousse hospital on Friday

He said he then got shot in the leg, but managed to find cover in a hotel office.


"Six of us took cover in there and I thought my wife was behind me, but she was still in the corridor," he said.

"As soon as we were in the room they started barricading the door, but I looked around and my wife wasn't with me. I could hear her shouting, 'help me I've been shot'. And I was inside and I couldn't get out to help."

Mr Callaghan said police then came and the barricade was pulled down and he left the office to see "carnage" in the corridor.

He described seeing a woman next to his wife who had been shot four times in the back, and at least another two female bodies. Another woman had been shot dead in another office, he added.

Image caption Part of the beach where the attack happened is still cordoned off

The pair are still being treated at the Sahloul University Hospital, along with about 18 others who received bullet wounds.

In a statement, Norfolk Police said it was liaising with the Foreign Office regarding the Callaghan's situation and was providing assistance to their family back home.

It said another of its officers was also on holiday in the resort at the time violence broke out, but he was "safe and well".

The attack marks "the most significant terrorist attack on the British people" since the London 7/7 bombings in 2005, according to Foreign Minister Tobias Ellwood.

Fifteen people have so far been confirmed dead, but the toll is likely to rise, he added.

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