The Tunisian beach massacre gunman was able to return to finish off wounded victims because of the police delays in tackling him, it has been claimed.

Nearly 20 minutes into the attack that killed 30 Britons, Seifeddine Rezgui retraced his steps to the start of his shooting spree while Tunisian security forces struggled to respond.

As many as 17 badly wounded tourists may have been still alive when he returned to open fire again, according to a detailed timeline of the attack published in the Tunisian press.

The report came as the bodies of eight of the 30 Britons killed in the attack arrived back in the UK on Wednesday in an RAF C17 military transport.

An RAF guard of honour carried the coffins from the transporter to nearby hearses at RAF Brize Norton.

According to the Tunisian timeline, which is corroborated by eyewitnesses who spoke to the Telegraph, the attack that ended with a total of 38 dead began on the beach in front of Sousse’s Imperial Marhaba Hotel at around 11.45am.

The 23-year-old student, who was dressed in a black T-shirt and shorts and had arrived at the beach with his AK47 assault rifle hidden inside a parasol, picked off further victims as they fled the hail of fire.

By 11.58am Rezgui had reached the large swimming pool area and continued to shoot indiscriminately at terrified tourists.

At 12.03pm the killer headed for the hotel’s administration block where he continued to fire and throw grenades or homemade bombs.

He then returned to the beach where the carnage had begun, and continued to fire at those who were too badly hurt to run away.

He was able to move freely between the beach and hotel until armed harbour guards finally chased him past the Bellevue Hotel next door before he was killed in a side street at 12.32pm.

The two harbour guards who pursued and killed Rezgui have already criticised the security forces’ response to the situation.

“There was a very big security failure because he was killing for a long time,” one said earlier this week.

Anis Gamaun, a waiter, said he was among the many local workers who confronted Rezgui as he returned to the beach, in an attempt to protect tourists who were wounded or had been unable to flee. He was scornful of the security forces’ response.

“They just stood there watching”, said Mr Gamaun, who works at the Palm Marina Hotel’s beachside bar next door to the Imperial Marhaba.

Several eyewitnesses have said that one beach worker took an automatic weapon from one of the armed security personnel on the beach who had frozen during the crisis, with the aim of trying to stop Rezgui himself.

Tunisia’s interior minister, Mohamed Najem Gharsalli, has also conceded that Rezgui could have been “eliminated” earlier if there had been better coordination between hotel staff and the security forces.

Tunisian police continue to hunt for accomplices to the atrocity, which represents the worst terror attack to target Britons since the 2005 London bombings.

Police believe Rezgui had help finding a weapon and getting ready for the assault, though they still say there was only one gunman.

A hunt continues for two young men named as “dangerous terrorists” by the Tunisian authorities and wanted in connection with the attack.

The parents of 28-year-old Rafique Tayari from Tunis say he could not have taken part because he is in Libya trying to get on a migrant boat to start a new life in Europe.

Police sources in the northern town of Bizerte said the other suspect, Mohammed Ben Abdullah bin Muhsen Al Sharadi, 24, is also believed to be in Libya.

A source said: “His father is dead and his mother is very old. She told us he has gone to Libya. We were aware of him before as one of the town’s religious crowd, but he was not considered an extremist.”

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