The Commander of the Tripoli Military Council, Abdelhakim Khwildi Belhadj, has expressed his deep regret for the ongoing chaos at the Ras Ajdir border crossing with Tunisia and has vowed that order will soon be restored at the strategic outpost.
“We are very sorry for what happened recently at the border crossing of Ras Ajdir. We strongly condemn any attack that violates the sanctity of Tunisian soil and could affect the relations between both our peoples,” said Belhaj.
“The Ras Ajdir border crossing has been a vital facility for both Tunisians and Libyans for many years. We must act quickly to end the disorder that has been caused,” Belhaj added.
According to Belhaj, the Tripoli Military Council is holding sessions with chief officials in the Libyan government to address the issue as quickly as possible and to stabilize the border area with Tunisia.
Balhaj announced that the the Libyan Ministries of Interior and Defense are working towards the formation of a committee of defense and crisis solving. This committee will be charged with finding a quick solution to, “the excesses of some of the Libyan rebels at the Ras Ajdir border crossing in the next few days,” Belhaj stressed.
Both ministries will coordinate the administration of the border area of Ras Ajdir by delegating its management to specialized authorities within the police, customs, and passport control. According to Belhaj, some Libyan rebels will be called upon to help in the restoration of order and organization along the border areas with Tunisia.
Belhaj expressed that he values Libya having good relations with its neighbor Tunisia, and offered his gratitude for the Tunisian people’s support of the Libyan popular protests – which led to the ousting and killing of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011.
According to a Tunisian national guard officer posted in the area, the situation at the Tunisian-Libyan border crossing of Ras Ajdir has been improving, following recent attacks by smugglers directed at Tunisian border officials stationed in the area.
Although calm has been restored, the crossing remains closed to traffic on both sides of the border – except in emergency circumstances. The officer stated that he had heard news of a decision from the Libyan National Transitional Council to appoint uniformed officers at Ras Ajdir in an effort to improve the organization of the border crossing.
Between the night of Friday, December 2nd and the early hours of Saturday, December 3rd, 2011, shots were heard in the Saharan zone of Sidi Touay in the vicinity of the Tunisian-Libyan borders. The incident involved a squad of customs guards and Libyan cars, who allegedly sought to cross Tunisian-Libyan borders illegally.
According to Tunisian customs’ sources, the squad noticed the presence of cars attempting to cross the borders while patrolling at Sidi Touay. Subsequently, shots were fired in the direction of the approaching squad. Customs guards then tried to apprehend the vehicles’ passengers, however they managed to escape to Libyan soil.