Libya, Tunisia eye anti-terrorist co-operation

2016-05-07 07:15
Tunisian mourners carry the coffins of victims who died in a jihadist attack.  (Fathi Nasri, AFP)

Tunisian mourners carry the coffins of victims who died in a jihadist attack. (Fathi Nasri, AFP)

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Tripoli - Neighbours Libya and Tunisia, which have been hit by a string of jihadist attacks, pledged on Friday to co-operate in the fight against terrorism.

"We will conquer terrorism, but it will take time and co-operation," Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid told a joint news conference in Tripoli hours after his arrival in the Libyan capital.

The head of Libya's new unity government, Fayez al-Sarraj, agreed on the need to bolster bilateral cooperation against jihadists active in both countries.

"We spoke about security co-ordination for the battle against terrorism," Sarraj told reporters.

"What happened yesterday in the Abu Grein area... was very close," he added.

On Thursday jihadists from the Islamic State group advanced on the town of Abu Grein east of Tripoli and overran a key crossroads in an assault during which a suicide bomber killed two policemen.

The crossroads spills onto the coastal highway that stretches further east to the border with Tunisia.

ISIS launched the assault from their stronghold in Sirte, which they captured last June and where they have set up a training camp for Libyan and foreign militants.

The Libyan news agency LANA said Tunisia and Libya are expected to set up a joint committee tasked with controlling the main Ras Jedir border crossing between the two.

Last year a string of deadly attacks claimed by ISIS killed dozens of holidaymakers in Tunisia and dealt a devastating blow to its tourism industry.

Officials have said the attacks were planned in Libya.

Tunisia has built a 200km barrier stretching about half the length of its border with Libya in an attempt to prevent militants from infiltrating.

In March, Tunisia closed two border crossings with Libya for two weeks in response to a deadly jihadist attack on a town near the frontier.

Thousands of Tunisians are believed to have gone abroad to join jihadist groups, many to Libya which plunged into chaos after the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gadaffi.

ISIS has exploited this chaos and established a stronghold in Libya, where it has claimed bombings and executions.

Read more on:    isis  |  libya  |  tunisia

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