Holidaymakers evacuated as Tunisian riots continue

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A RELAXING holiday turned into a nightmare for a holidaying couple from Grantham when they were forced to evacuate Tunisia.

Just 12 days into their seven-week holiday, Frank and Pam Sanford were bundled into a coach and flown back home to the UK.

The sudden halt to their winter break came as violent demonstrators took to the streets of the North African country protesting against unemployment, food price rises and corruption within the Government.

The Sanfords, of Greyfriars, were staying in a hotel in Hammamet.

Mrs Sanford, 66, said: “There was unrest before we flew out but I honestly didn’t think it would escalate quite as bad as that.

“We thought all the trouble was in the capital Tunis, but all the cafes and shops in Hammamet shut up.

“Friends of ours went just a quarter of a mile down the road to buy a bottle of wine and when they got there the shop was on fire.

“It was scary and we kept hearing all sorts.”

In another horrifying tale, other friends of the couple took the unwise decision to take a bus trip to Tunis. Sitting in a cafe, they were terrified when staff began dragging tables and chairs in from outside and putting the shutters down.

After being locked in for some time, police officers arrived and escorted the tourists to safety through barricades in the streets.

Two days before the Sanfords were evacuated from the country, a curfew was placed on their hotel preventing guests from leaving.

Then at 10.30pm on Thursday came the news they had been dreading.

While sitting in the hotel lounge, a Thomas Cook holiday rep announced holidaymakers would be returning home at 7am the following morning.

Mrs Sanford said: “Although it was a bit scary, there was no BBC news to watch so we didn’t realise just how bad it was. We didn’t realise until we got back.”

Their ordeal has not put the Sanfords off Tunisia.

Mrs Sanford said: “If Thomas Cook says we can go back in two weeks, we’ll go. It might all have calmed down by then.”

l Were you caught up in the violent protests in Tunisia? E-mail: comment@granthamjournal.co.uk