Tunisians near the Libyan border staged a general strike Tuesday following deadly
clashes between police and protestors over the authorities’ seizure of contraband
gasoline, local unions told the AFP.
Only emergency services, pharmacists and bakers were continuing to work in the
Tatouine area, the unions said. An AFP journalist reported that Ben Guerdane, near the
Ras Jedir border post, was crippled by the strike as police used tear gas to disperse
Tunisians in the south subsist largely on illegal cross-border trade, most notably the
smuggling of Libyan oil.
An estimated 328,000 tons of contraband pass through Ras Jedir annually, and as
much as twenty percent of Ben Guerdane’s economically active population survives on
A December, 2013 World Bank report stated that cross-border smuggling with Libya
and Algeria was costing the Tunisian exchequer more than 1.2 billion dinars ($675
million or 600 million Euros) a year.
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