Frustration after Tunisia border shut over deadly blast

2015-11-30 13:15
iStock

iStock

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Ben Guerdane, Tunisia - Petrol prices spiked, shops closed and trucks that plied the desert to Libya have vanished since Tunisia shut the border following a deadly bus bombing in the capital.

In the town of Ben Guerdane, and across south-eastern Tunisia, the mood is morose with residents concerned for their future since authorities imposed the 15-day border closure last week.

The decision was taken as part of security measures following Tuesday's suicide bombing that killed 12 presidential guards in Tunis, which was claimed by the Islamic State group.

Authorities say the attack, like two others this year claimed by ISIS, was planned in Libya where the jihadist group has exploited chaos that spread since the 2011 revolution to gain a presence.

"The terrorists attack in the centre of the capital, 200m from the interior ministry, and we 600km away must pay the price," said Nejib, a teacher, in Ben Guerdane.

First sign of trouble

According to him, the first sign of trouble came when fuel prices surged.

"On Wednesday 20 litres of petrol cost 6.5 dinars (less than €3) and on Friday 20 dinars (€9)," he said.

Ben Guerdane and the surrounding region depend on black market trade with Libya, where smugglers also benefit from lawlessness that spread since the revolution that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The closure of the border for nearly a month in 2014 following differences between the two neighbours had fuelled tensions in Ben Guerdane, with protests and strikes.

"We are all against terrorism but this is not a solution. And after the 15 days, what's going to happen?" asked Abdelfattah, who deals in contraband petrol and electrical appliances.

Tunisia's secretary of state for national security, Rafik Chelly, has said that the border closure is a "temporary" measure to give authorities time to mull what they should do next.

He did not rule out a decision to impose entry visas on Libyans.

'Region's slow death'

"That would mean the end of an era and the region's slow death," said Hassen, a resident of Ben Guerdane.

The border area has also been a haven for Libyans who fled their country's conflict in huge numbers and continue to travel across the frontier to escape violence.

Many Tunisians from the region have for years also worked across the border in the oil-rich North African nation, and an indefinite border closure could spell doom.

So far the Ras Jadir crossing is open only to Tunisians wanting to return home and Libyans wishing to leave.

Ali Ouni, a local labour official, said nothing else goes through, certainly "no merchandise and not even ambulances".

One Tunisian working in Libya, Brahim, said he preferred to play it safe then potentially be stuck in Libya.

So he stuffed some belongings in a big bag and rented a car for his return to Tunisia, without even waiting to get his paycheque, he said after making it through the crossing point.

Nearby Azzouz, a Libyan from the town of Zwara, was trying to persuade a Tunisian border guard to let him cross over to his hometown to get some money.

"He said that if I go I will not be able to return to Tunisia before 15 days," he told AFP. "I prefer to stay and wait."

Read more on:    isis  |  tunisia  |  north africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.