By Hadi Fornaji.
Tunis, 25 July 2016:
For the second day in a row, the Ras Jadir border crossing btween Libya and Tunisia has been closed to vehicle traffic today as a result of moves by a Zawia militia to oust the guards from Zuwara.
Zawia’s Jamal Al-Ghaib Brigade which has operated a checkpoint near the border for some time claims that the Zuwarans are complicit in smuggling across the frontier. They say they want to put a stop to this, although there are alternative suggestions that in reality they want a slice of the business.
Travellers willing to walk across the frontier are being permitted.
At the crossing, the smuggling has long been on public display with smugglers opening driving truckloads of cheap Libyan petrol and other subsidised goods across into Tunisia.
Efforts by the Tunisia authorities on the other side of the border to curtail the smuggling have often been impeded by locals involved in the trade.
Meanwhile, access to the alternative, southern Dehiba-Wazin crossing was restricted yesterday after the Tunisian army blocked the road near Remada, some 50 kilometres from Dehiba, targeting fuel smugglers. According to the Tunisian news agency TAP, one smuggler was shot dead in the action. This then provoked protests in Remada which ended only when troops fired into the air over the demonstrators.