Tensions between young smugglers of both Libyan and Tunisian nationalities and Tunisian border officials have grown at the Ras-Jadir crossing over the past week.
On November 28th, Tunisian police and customs officers stopped three cars, two of which carried banned tobacco products and lead from used cartridges, the third car had a pro-Gaddafi personality on board.
The smugglers’ relatives retaliated by burning tires in front of the Ben Guerdane town hall which spread panic in the Ben Guerdane downtown. It was only after newly-elected deputies from the Constituent Assembly and regional officials intervened that order was restored in Ben Guerdane during the evening of November 29th.
On November 30th, a group of young Libyans on the Tunisian side of the Ras-Jadir border assisted several Tunisian vehicles loaded with banned fruits, vegetables and alcoholic drinks cross into Libya. Tunisian customs officers were unable to stop the vehicles despite an attempt by a Tunisian policeman. The policeman was attacked and threatened with a firearm, an eyewitness reported.
The attack created a chaotic situation at the border crossing and Tunisian police demanded that they be provided with firearms in order to protect themselves from further attacks.
The Tunisian army, present in the general vicinity of the border crossing, did not intervene throughout the morning after the attack. The following afternoon the security situation degenerated further when a group of Libyans shot in the air and smashed cars. The Tunisian Armed Forces intervened by indefinitely closing the border crossing.
Source: La Presse
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Tags: ben guerdane, chaos, Constituent Assembly deputies, Customs officers, firearms, Maghreb, Ras Jedir border crossing, Smugglers, tunisia, Tunisian Military, Tunisian police, Tunisian vehicles, Tunisian-Libyan border