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Tunisia to Build Moat, Wall of Sand Against Terror

  • Edward Yeranian

Tunisia's prime minister Habib Essid adresses the parliament in Tunis, July 8, 2015.

Tunisia's prime minister Habib Essid adresses the parliament in Tunis, July 8, 2015.

Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid says his country is starting to build a wall of sand along the border with neighboring Libya, along with a moat, to stop terrorists from infiltrating Tunisian territory. The Tunisian government has been taking preventive measures to try to stop a repeat of the terror attack which left 38 people dead — most of them foreign tourists — on June 26.

The terrorist who trained in Libya and gunned down the tourists on a beach last month has forced the Tunisian government to take action to prevent further attacks from taking place, and assure skittish tourists that Tunisia is safe.

Speaking Wednesday on state TV, Prime Minister Essid says the Tunisian army will build a 160 kilometer-long wall along the length of the country's border with Libya, with a moat next to it.

The prime minister indicated that the wall would be made of sand and would be finished by the end of the year. He said security cameras and surveillance posts would be placed at regular intervals.

State of emergency

Essid added that the recent decision to impose a state of emergency was prompted by fears that outside plotters were acting to carry out further acts of terrorism and mass killings, to destabilize and demoralize the country.

Tunisian gunman Seifeddine Rezgui reportedly trained with Islamic militants in Libya before carrying out the bloody June 26 attack at the Imperial Marhaba Hotel in the resort town of Sousse.

FILE - 38 people were killed when a gunman opened fire on a Tunisian beachside hotel in the popular resort of Sousse, Tunisia, June 26, 2015.

FILE - 38 people were killed when a gunman opened fire on a Tunisian beachside hotel in the popular resort of Sousse, Tunisia, June 26, 2015.

Tunisian officials have said the drop in tourism resulting from the attack will cost the country nearly $500 million this year alone. Egypt is facing similar troubles after a series of high profile attacks inside that country.

Usefulness questioned

Khattar Abou Diab of the University of Paris tells VOA that he doesn't think that building a wall is going to be sufficient to solve Tunisia's security problems and that the measure could have adverse effects, as well.

He says that given the existence of terrorism sanctuaries in various places, many think they can protect their security by building barriers, as Israel did with the Palestinian Territories or Europe is trying to do in the Mediterranean. But, he argues, such preventive measures will be difficult to enforce, given the length of the borders involved and lengthy shared coastlines.

Abou Diab also stresses that Tunisia and Libya do a great deal of black market trading along the border and that building a wall could adversely affect the economy of both countries.

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