Prime Minister Habib Essid (center-right) observes a minute’s silence
in Sousse, in memory of the 38 victims of the jihadist attack at the
Port el Kantaoui. Photo / Getty
After last month’s terror attack at a beach resort in the coastal
city of Sousse, the Tunisian Government has authorised plans to build a
167km barrier to secure its border with Libya.
The wall plan was
announced by Tunisia Prime Minister Habib Essid, who said the lawless
situation next door in Libya was “the biggest dilemma” facing his
Seifeddine Rezgui, the Tunisian gunman who killed 38
people, mostly tourists, in Sousse, is believed to have been trained by
Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, which is in the grip
of a civil war.
Isis (Islamic State), which has a Libyan
offshoot, separately claimed responsibility for the attack and has set
its sights on expanding its branches in North Africa.
would be a trench and sand fortification stretching inland from the
Mediterranean, according to reports. It would be built and monitored by
the Tunisian military and would include surveillance posts.
Reports also suggest Tunisia will receive outside logistical
and technical support from France and the UAE to help reinforce its
Tunisia has taken other more controversial steps to
crack down on suspected radicals. Essid, who was nominated to his post
by Tunisia’s ruling secularists, ordered some 80 mosques accused of
“spreading venom” to be closed.
Tunisian clerics protested against the “unjust” move, saying the assault “bore no relation to Islam”.
2011, when mass protests led to the ousting of Tunisian dictator Zine
Abidine Ben Ali and ushered in the country’s fledgling democratic
transition, ultraconservative Salafists have found more space and
traction within Tunisian society.
Tiny Tunisia has seen a huge flow of its nationals join foreign jihadists fighting for Isis in Syria and Iraq.
attack in the country was a huge blow to its tourism industry, which
contributes more than 15 per cent of Tunisia’s GDP and provides nearly
half a million local jobs.
Essid’s government is not the only one
this year to announce such a drastic measure. Last month, Hungary’s
right-wing government said it would build a 175km wall on its Serbian
border to thwart migrants and refugees escaping to Europe from the
Middle East and Africa.
“We have only recently taken down walls in Europe,” said an EU spokeswoman. “We should not be putting them up.”
What: 167km wall, inland from the coast
Where: Along the eastern one third of the 500km border between Tunisia and Libya
When: It is to be finished by the end of the year
To prevent Tunisian citizens travelling to jihadist training camps in
Libya. The plan to build a fence dates back to 2012, but authorities now
see it as a matter of urgency after the killing of 38 tourists at a
resort in the country two weeks ago.