Thomas Cook pulling 1,800 Britons out of Tunisia

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Thomas Cook, one of Europe's biggest tour operators, said Friday it was evacuating around 1,800 British and Irish holidaymakers from Tunisia due to the political unrest.

"Although there has been no specific problems for our holidaymakers, their well-being is our primary concern so, as a precaution, we've taken the decision to bring them back to the UK as soon as we can, using our fleet of aircraft," a spokeswoman said.

Six repatriation flights were scheduled Friday from the resort of Monastir, two to London Gatwick Airport and four to Manchester in northwest England.

Thomas Cook cancelled its next departures from Britain to Tunisia, due out on Sunday.

"We are currently reviewing the situation for the next departures which are planned for Wednesday and we'll be contacting all customers shortly," the tour operator said.

Violent unrest against President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's rule has plagued the popular north African holiday destination since mid-December in the worst political violence in his 23 years in power.

Britain's Foreign Office said it was advising "against all but essential travel to Tunisia".

"The situation is unpredictable and there is the potential for violence to flare up, raising the risk of getting caught up in demonstrations," it said.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman told AFP: "We're reviewing things constantly".

Approximately 400,000 tourists from Britain visit Tunisia annually.

© 2011 AFP

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