US ‘targets Tunisia beach massacre organiser’ in strikes against Islamic State in Libya
Noureddine Chouchane, one of the organisers of last year’s massacre of British tourists, is believed to have been killed
One of the masterminds behind last summer’s massacre of British tourists in Tunisia is believed to have been killed in a US bombing raid on an Islamic State (Isil) camp in Libya.
American warplanes targeted Noureddine Chouchane, a Tunisian terrorist who helped organise the attack that killed 30 Britons at a beach hotel in June.
US intelligence is still trying to confirm whether Chouchane was killed but more than 30 other Isil fighers died in the bombing, according to the New York Times.
One US official said it was “likely” Chouchane was among the dead.
The raid is symbol of growing Western alarm at how Isil has expanded its control over swathes of Libya even as it faces setbacks in Iraq and Syria.
Both Britain and the US have stepped up reconnaissance and special forces operations in Libya and President Barack Obama said this week that America would target Isil “wherever it appears”.
US F-15 Strike Eagle jets carried out the raid from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.
Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, authorised the use of a British base on Thursday, while travelling back from the Falklands via Ascension Island.
Mr Fallon said: “I welcome this strike that has taken out a Daesh training camp being used to train terrorists to carry out attacks. I was satisfied that its destruction makes us all safer, and I personally authorised the US use of our bases.”
A Pentagon spokesman said confirmation of Chouchane’s death would “eliminate an experienced facilitator and is expected to have an immediate impact on Isil’s ability to facilitate its activities in Libya”.
Chouchane, 36, allegedly helped plan the mass shooting at a beachfront hotel in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse. A gunman disguised as a tourist opened fire on holiday makers and killed 38 people, of whom 30 were British.
Chouchane was also reportedly involved in the attack on a Tunisian museum three months earlier. The shooting killed 22 people, most of whom were foreigners.