April 29, 2011
Tunisian spillover: Qadhdhafi forces cross frontier
This has some unpleasant implications for spillover, as Pro-Gaddafi forces clash with Tunisian military | Energy & Oil | Reuters
By Zoubeir Souissi
DEHIBA, Tunisia, April 29 (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi crossed into neighbouring Tunisia and fought a gun battle with Tunisian troops in a frontier town on Friday as Libya's conflict spilled beyond its borders.
Pro-Gaddafi forces fired shells into the town of Dehiba, damaging buildings and injuring at least one resident, and a group of them drove into the town in a truck, local people and a Reuters photographer in the town said.
The Libyan government troops were pursuing anti-Gaddafi rebels from the restive Western Mountains region of Libya who fled into Tunisia in the past few days after Gaddafi forces overran the border post the rebels had earlier seized.
"There were lots of clashes in the town this morning. Lots of gunshots. The Tunisian military clashed with Gaddafi's forces ... Some of Gaddafi's people were killed," said Reuters photographer Zoubeir Souissi from the town.
"There are a lot of Gaddafi's people who were injured. They are in the hospital in Dehiba," he said.
Two residents also told Reuters that shells had fallen on the town from pro-Gaddafi positions across the border in Libya.
"Rounds from the bombardment are falling on houses.... A Tunisian woman was injured," one of the residents, called Ali, told Reuters by telephone.
"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," a statement from the foreign ministry said.
Friday's clashes marked the first time that Libyan government ground forces had crossed the border and entered a Tunisian town.
... Tunisia toppled its own veteran leader, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, in a revolution earlier this year and many people there are sympathetic to the rebels fighting Gaddafi's forces. (Additional reporting by Tarek Amara and Matthew Tostevin in Tunis and Hamid Ould Ahmed in Algiers; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)
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Serious potential for trouble, though Tunisian Spillover still would be a good band name.
Posted by: matthew h at April 29, 2011 11:23 AM
Any thoughts on whether this would provide pretext for Tunisia to play the role of Tanzania in Qadhdhafi's remake of the Idi Amin story?
Posted by: Djuha at April 29, 2011 10:43 PM
Tunisian army has its hands full with internal issues, it is not going to have any appetite for foreign adventures. There is no potential at all. Nor would it be wise.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at April 30, 2011 06:54 AM
1/3 of the Tunisian army was busy at the southern border prior to that. It probably is higher now. So, time to kick some Qadhafi asses - anecdotal evidence suggests incidents like these are now promoting intervention among Tunisians, where such voices were a tiny minority initially.
I don't think it smart for Tunisia to kick asses, but supplying arms to the Berber rebels, would be very smart. Mountain terrain is far easier to run an insurgency in, and if Qadhdhafi has to seriously worry about his South Western flank, as well as Misrata, as well as the eastern front... His life gets rather more interesting.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at May 1, 2011 11:13 AM