Tunisia Planning to Build 100-Mile Long Antiterrorism Wall Along Border With Libya

tunisia-building-antiterrorism-wall-libya

Tunisia is building a 100-mile-long wall along its border with Libya as part of a plan to protect the country from Islamist militants operating in Libya, Prime Minister Habib Essid has said in interviews with local news organizations.

The wall is one of several new security measures announced by the government in the aftermath of two attacks by Islamist extremists against foreign tourists that have shaken the country and threatened its economy. A gunman killed 38 tourists at a beach hotel in Sousse 10 days ago, and in March two men shot dead 21 tourists at the national museum in Tunis.

After the latest attack the government fired the governor of Sousse and 16 police officials for failings in intelligence gathering and their slow response to the emergency. President Beji Caid Essebsi declared a state of emergency on Saturday, and 1,300 armed guards have been deployed to protect hotels and tourist sites.

But the attacks have also focused concerns about the lawlessness in Libya and the growing presence of the Islamic State group and other extreme Islamist organizations there. All three gunmen involved in the two attacks were trained in a militant camp near the town of Sabratha in western Libya, officials have said. Tunisia’s border with Libya runs for 300 miles through the desert, and militants and smugglers easily evade border controls.

The new wall, or berm, will run for 100 miles between the major border crossings at Ras Jedir on the coast and Dhehiba. It will serve as a temporary barrier until a more expensive electric fence can be built, Mr. Essid said in an interview with the newspaper La Presse that was published Sunday.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Carlotta Gall

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