Tunisia jets attack arms traffickers near Libya frontier


A missile in a wooden crate is seen in an ammunition storage bunker some 100 kilometers south of Sirte, Libya on Oct. 26, 2011.


Philippe Desmazes

Tunisian fighter jets have attacked three vehicles believed to be smuggling weapons from Libya to Algeria.

According to Reuters, the planes were on a routine surveillance mission when the cars’ occupants fired on them from a remote area of the Sahara desert where the borders of Libya, Tunisia and Algeria converge.

Tunisia’s official TAP news agency said all three vehicles had been destroyed by the aircraft, but a Tunisian security official told the Associated Press that one of the cars had managed to escape across the Algerian border.

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According to the BBC, the smuggling of weapons has increased dramatically in the region since Libya’s Col Muammar Gaddafi and Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali were ousted last year in the Arab Spring revolts.

Looted arms from Gaddafi’s stockpiles are being sold on the black market, and Tunisian security forces have clashed with traffickers entering the country from Libya and Algeria on several occasions over the past year.