Libya ministry takes control of Tunisia crossing

2011-12-05 14:02

Tripoli - Libyan interior ministry forces have taken control of the key Ras Jdir border crossing with Tunisia from former rebels who toppled Muammar Gaddafi, a top official said on Monday.

"Today, I can announce that the control of Ras Jdir has been taken over by forces of the ministry of interior," interim interior minister Fawzi Abdelali told reporters.

The crossing, 180km west of Tripoli, was closed last week after Tunisian guards stopped work, complaining of lack of protection against armed and unarmed fighters deployed on the Libyan side.

On Friday, Tunisia also closed a second border post in Dehiba after allegations of attacks on Tunisians inside Libya, and Tunis Air flights to Libya have also been cancelled since last week.

Tension between Tunis and Tripoli erupted after a Libyan rebel reportedly shot and wounded a Tunisian customs official as he forced his way across the Ras Jdir crossing.

Voicing "deep concern", Tunis called on Tripoli to manage its side of the border with professional forces.

The handover at Ras Jdir was "through negotiation. No use of force was carried out against anyone", Abdelali said, adding that the former rebels had acted responsibly and kept order at the frontier.

The minister said the crossing would be reopened later this week.

On Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagur said Tripoli was drafting a plan to reopen and secure the border with Tunisia, but he did not give details on the status of the Dehiba crossing.