Libya angers Tunisia as war briefly crosses border
By Lin Noueihed and Tarek Amara
TRIPOLI/TUNIS (Reuters) - Libya's two-month civil war spilled over the border into Tunisia, provoking outrage in the western neighbor, while rebels in Misrata said only NATO could halt the bombardment of the besieged city.
The struggle between forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and rebels trying to end his more than four decades of rule drew in outsiders last month, as NATO began air strikes on government troops under a United Nations mandate.
But on Thursday the fighting spilled over Libya's land frontier, when Gaddafi troops battled rebels on Tunisian territory for control of the Dehiba-Wazin frontier crossing.
The incursion was brief and limited, and Gaddafi's troops even apologized locally. But the response was nevertheless furious from Tunisia, where the Arab world's wave of uprisings began late last year, leading to the overthrow of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January.
"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 Tunisian Foreign Ministry statement said.
Illustrating the difficulty of keeping the Libyan conflict sealed within the country's land borders, artillery shells fired by Gaddafi forces also struck the Tunisian side of the crossing.
Rebels seized the post a week ago, as it controls the only road link which their comrades in Libya's Western Mountains have with the outside world, making them rely otherwise on rough tracks for supplies of food, fuel and medicine.
After weeks of advances and retreats by rebel and government forces along the Mediterranean coast, fighting has settled into a pattern of clashes and skirmishes. Continued...