Libya rebels say retake Tunisia border crossing

AP , Friday 29 Apr 2011

Revolutionaries and forces loyal to Muammer Gaddafi battles over control of a key border post, fighting on both sides of the Libya-Tunisia frontier

Tunisian army soldiers stand guard near overturned car which belongs to forces loyal to Gaddafi (Reuters)

Libyan rebels have regained control of the Dehiba crossing point on the Libyan-Tunisian border from government forces, a rebel told Reuters on Friday.

"Right here at this point I'm looking at the new (rebel) flag flying up there at the border. The rebels have got control of it, the freedom fighters. We're just in the process of opening it up," rebel Akram el Muradi said by telephone.

Earlier Today, Libyan troops chased rebel fighters across the border with Tunisia and clashed with them, indiscriminately firing in the area before being captured by the Tunisian military, witnesses said.

Tunisia's government expressed "extreme indignation" and demanded Libya immediately halt violations of its territory. Three Tunisians were injured, said a Tunisian witness, Ismail al-Wafi.

The spillover of the Libyan conflict into Tunisia introduced a further complication into more than two months of fighting with shifting front lines.

The Dhuheiba border crossing between Libya and Tunisia has been a flashpoint in recent days. The crossing has been changing hands repeatedly between rebels and regime forces.

Al-Wafi said the rebels had recaptured the border crossing on Friday. The crossing has served as an important supply line for rebel strongholds in a Libyan mountain area near Tunisia, home to members of Libya's ethnic Berber minority.

Thousands of residents of the mountain areas had fled to Dhuheiba and other Tunisian border communities in recent weeks to escape the fighting.

On Friday, Gaddafi forces in more than a dozen SUVs and armed with anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers drove into Dhuheiba town, firing indiscriminately, al-Wafi said. He said Gaddafi loyalists were captured by Tunisian troops.

He said the clashes erupted at about 10 a.m. Friday and lasted about 90 minutes and that Dhuheiba residents also took part.

There had also been reports of fighting between Libyan forces and rebel fighters in Dhuheiba on Thursday. The Tunisian government issued an angry statement.

"Given the gravity of what has happened ... the Tunisian authorities have informed the Libyans of their extreme indignation and demand measures to put an immediate stop to these violations," the Tunisian Foreign Ministry said.

Short link: