UPDATED: UK stands still for Tunisia victims

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A minute’s silence was observed across the UK today in memory of the victims of the Tunisia terror attack.

The country stood still at midday to honour the 30 Britons killed, including Blackpool couple Denis and Elaine Thwaites.

A sign near Blackpool Town Hall as Britain remembers the victims of the Tunisia terror attack with a minute's silence. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 3, 2015. Two of the victims, Denis and Elaine Thwaites came from the Lancashire coastal resort.  See PA story POLICE Tunisia. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

A sign near Blackpool Town Hall as Britain remembers the victims of the Tunisia terror attack with a minute's silence. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 3, 2015. Two of the victims, Denis and Elaine Thwaites came from the Lancashire coastal resort. See PA story POLICE Tunisia. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

The pair were among holidaymakers attacked by Tunisian student Seifeddine Rezgui.

The gunman, who had links to terror organisation Islamic State, opened fire on tourists in Sousse a week ago today.

Flags were flown at half-mast over Whitehall and Buckingham Palace, while play at Wimbledon was delayed.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh observed the silence as they visited the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre, while Prime Minister David Cameron marked the moment in his Oxfordshire constituency.

Elaine and Denis Thwaites

Elaine and Denis Thwaites

As pedestrians and tourists alike bowed their head in London’s Parliament Square during the silence, flags above Whitehall fluttered at half mast, a poignant symbol mirrored at public buildings throughout the country, including at Buckingham Palace.

Tunisian prime minister Habib Essid also joined the UK’s ambassador to the country Hamish Cowell at a memorial event on the beach in Sousse - where Mr Cowell met members of the hotel’s staff to thank them for their role helping British nationals.

Armed police patrolled the beach while dozens of tourists also gathered around a sea of flowers at the scene of the attacks.

Elsewhere, Tamworth fell silent to remember Sue Davey, who was killed along with her partner Scott Chalkley. Flags on Tamworth Castle and the town’s Marmion House were flown at half mast, and a book of condolence was opened by the council for people to remember her.

Mosques across the UK also fell silent to mark the occasion as Muslims paid their own tributes during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Muslim Council of Britain has urged British Muslims to make their voices heard to pray for peace, and speak out against terrorism, and has called on mosques and imams to deliver a sermon of peace at Friday prayers, to remind people “that these killers do not respect the sanctity of life as laid down in Islam”.

The British victims were among 38 holidaymakers who were killed by Seifeddine Rezgui when he opened fire in the resort of Sousse.

Three Irish nationals, two Germans, one Belgian, one Portuguese and one Russian were among the dead.

The bodies of 17 of the 30 British victims killed in the beach massacre have been returned to the UK and eight more will be flown into RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire today, the Foreign Office said, with the final five returning tomorrow.

The final two Britons to be identified have been confirmed as Raymond and Angela Fisher, from Leicester, believed to be aged 75 and 69.

Holiday operators Thomson and First Choice have confirmed that all 30 British victims were their customers.

It is believed Rezgui - who was shot dead by police - had accomplices who helped him to carry out the atrocity and the Tunisian government said it had made a number of arrests.

Eight people - seven men and one woman - were in custody, suspected of having direct links to the massacre, but four others had been released, government minister Kamel Jendoubi said.

He said the investigation “has allowed us to discover the network behind the operation in Sousse”.

According to Tunisian officials, the gunman trained at a Libyan jihadist camp at the same time as the two gunmen who attacked the Bardo museum in Tunis in March, killing 22 people.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon vowed that those responsible for the massacre would be “tracked down”.

The Metropolitan Police said 76 family liaison officers across the country were supporting the families of those killed and the survivors while hundreds of counter terrorism officers were helping the international response to the attack.

Specialist advisers have also been deployed to Tunisia by the National Policing Counter Terrorism Headquarters to assist the Foreign Office and Tunisian authorities in reviewing security at other tourist resorts and attractions.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the national policing lead for counter terrorism, said: “With the threat level to the UK from international terrorism remaining at severe, the UK police service is continually reviewing security to help ensure people and places are as safe as possible.”

He appealed for anyone who was in Sousse and witnessed the attack to contact the confidential anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321.

In Crawley, West Sussex, where victims John and Janet Stocker had roots and where relatives still live, the silence was observed impeccably.

Peckham-born Mr Stocker, 74, was a retired printer who had five children and 10 grandchildren. Relatives said they were “the happiest, most loving couple who enjoyed life’s simple pleasures”.

Fulham-born Mrs Stocker, 63, was described as a “fun-loving and devoted mother” in a statement released by relatives.

At Walsall Football Club the entire playing squad and manager Dean Smith joined supporters to remember three generations of one family killed in the atrocity.

Saddlers fans Joel Richards, 19, his uncle Adrian Evans and grandfather Charles ‘Patrick’ Evans, 78, were among those gunned down in Sousse, while Joel’s 16-year-old brother Owen survived the attack.

Owen and his mother Suzanne were joined by hundreds of supporters from the club for the minute’s silence, gathering around t he entrance to the club’s Banks’s Stadium where there is now a carpet of flowers and Walsall flags and shirts, as well as from local teams Aston Villa and Birmingham City in memory of the three.

Joel was a talented young referee, and a member of the Birmingham County Football Association referee’s department blew a whistle to mark the start and end of the silence, before the club’s chaplain Peter Hart said a short prayer.

Those being repatriated today are Christopher and Sharon Bell, Scott Chalkley, Sue Davey, Angie and Ray Fisher, Eileen Swannack, and John Welch, the Foreign Office said.

They will arrive on a RAF C-17 aircraft into RAF Brize Norton at around 3pm.

The silence was marked at ceremonies all across the UK.

Outside Buckingham Palace hordes of people gathered along the gates and lined the pavements for the occasion, before a brass band marched out of the main gates.

At the City of London’s Guildhall, police and workers bowed their head in remembrance, while at the Essex County Ground in Chelmsford the touring Australia Ashes cricket team joined Essex players and officials to bow their heads during a break in play.

Wimbledon also fell silent, with spectators congregating on Murray Mound inside the All England Club at midday to bow their heads, before clapping once the minute was over.

Matches started at 12.15pm rather than the usual 11.30am to allow players, staff and fans to take part.

In Belfast, the Brazilian Navy crew of sail training vessel the Cisne Branco, which is in the city for the Tall Ships Race Festival, paid tribute to the dead and saluted from the deck.

At St Anne’s Cathedral in the city candles were lit and prayers were said for the victims and their families.

Dean of Belfast Reverend John Mann, who led the short service in the small Chapel of the Holy Spirit, described the terror attack as a “terrible event” which had brought “such sorrow” to the families affected.

A one-minute silence was held at Silverstone which is hosting the British Grand Prix on Sunday. It was led by the drivers and teams and observed through the paddock and by the crowds in the grandstands.