Around 100 “terrorists” are currently holed up in the western mountains of Tunisia on the border with Algeria trying to enter Tunisia via its southern border with Libya, Tunisia’s Defence Minister has warned.
According to Abdelkarim Zubaidi, Tunisia’s “armed forces are ready to respond to any threats that may come from terrorists waiting for the opportunity to enter Tunisia, in cooperation with the security services of the Ministry of the Interior.”
Speaking to the Parliament Committee on Management and Armed Forces Affairs, Zubaidi explained that the presence of terrorists near its borders was one of the country’s “main security risks and terrorist threats”.
His comments came after the statement made by the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, in which he revealed efforts to strengthen Tunisia’s security system on the border with Libya and Algeria in order to effectively address the return of terrorists from hotbeds of tension.
Taghani’s remarks came on the sidelines of a plenary session of the Tunisian Parliament, attended by ambassadors of EU governments in Tunisia. The President of the European Parliament referred to efforts to strengthen Tunisia’s intelligence and border security systems on the coasts and its territorial borders with Libya and Algeria to counter the influx of terrorists from Africa or returning from the hotbeds of terrorism.
Tunisian security forces face a war against terrorists in the western mountains known as the Chânabi border with Algeria where members of Al-Qaeda have been holed up for years in rugged highlands.
Despite the Algerian government’s successes in eliminating most of the terrorist leaders and destroying several of its hideouts in the country, the group has still been able to plan its attacks from the mountains evident by the number of mine explosions targeting the military on an ongoing basis.
Algeria’s security forces have been working together with their Tunisian counterparts to coordinate the area in order to prevent terrorist infiltration into the borders of the two countries for years. Cooperation was strengthened by signing a joint security cooperation agreement in March to repel terrorism from Libya.
Tunisia’s security forces have benefited from the Algerian army’s training in the guerrilla arts on which the terrorist groups depend given the Algerian army’s long experience in fighting terrorism, having faced terrorist groups for more than 20 years.
Security experts have confirmed the flow of more terrorists into Libya, compounding the security threat to Tunisia and Algeria.
The biggest challenge facing Algeria is to secure its eastern border with Libya particularly after the militant groups affiliated with Daesh suffered heavy strategic losses in Libya in recent months.
Reports indicate that the terrorists’ ambitions in Algeria and Tunisia are difficult to achieve because they face Algerian security forces with considerable experience as a result of the war they waged against terrorist movements in the 1990s.
The official spokesman of the Tunisian National Guard Khalifa al-Shaibani, has revealed that for some time that the security units of Tunisia and Algeria are holding meetings almost daily to coordinate efforts on terrorism.