Tunisians rally against closure of border with Libya
BEN GUERDANE - Tunisian security forces used tear gas on Monday against hundreds of people in the southern town of Ben Guerdane protesting against the closure of the border with Libya, officials said.
"Around 1,000 people rallied outside local government offices and set tyres ablaze in protest against a Libyan decision to close the Ras Jedir border crossing," interior ministry spokesman Yasser Mesbah said.
Security forces fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, he added.
Ras Jedir is the main frontier between western Libya and southeastern Tunisia, a region whose economy is largely dependent on cross-border trade, both legal and illegal.
Tunisia's southern provinces are among the poorest in the country.
Since April, Libyan border officials have stopped the flow of merchandise across the border, sparking anger among residents.
A Libyan official, Hafedh Moammar, said at the time that the border was closed amid alleged "harassment" of Libyan travellers and to stop the flow of smuggled fuel.
The governor of the Tunisian town of Medenine, Tahar Matmati, said Libya also wanted to impose a "unified tax" on all products crossing the frontier.
In March, Tunisia closed two border crossings with Libya for two weeks in response to a deadly jihadist attack on Ben Guerdane.
Tunisia has also built a 200-kilometre (125-mile) barrier stretching about half the length of its border with Libya in an attempt to prevent militants from infiltrating.