Tripoli, March 23: Revolutionaries in on the Libyan town of Musaid today closed the border with Egypt. The move left people . . .[restrict]stranded on both sides of the frontier.
The militiamen put out a statement explaining the reasons for their action. They said they had done it as a protest against cross-border smuggling and because there was “a lack of seriousness in the Ministries of Interior and Defense to protect the security of Libya”.
Specifically, they said the move was to prevent the entry of contaminated and out-of-date food and medicine into Libya, the smuggling of “looted public funds” into Egypt and the export of Libyan subsidized foodstuffs to Egypt; they mentioned oil, sugar, tomato paste, tea and pasta in their statement.
They also said that the move was a stand against human trafficking by “a mafia of the Egyptians and Libyans” which they claimed also included the Libyan military.
However, later in the day an Interior ministry official, Wanis Sharif, was reported to have said that the ministry had closed the border following attacks on people crossing into Egypt. He said that it would remain closed until there was an agreement with the Egyptians to ensure the safety of Libyans crossing into Egypt.
The border crossing with Tunisia has been closed on several occasions in the past four months because of the actions of militiamen. In contrast, the Egyptian border has been relatively quiet and stable — until now. [/restrict]