Tunisian authorities have stopped more than 20 armed Europeans attempting to cross into the country from neighbouringLibya, officials said on Tuesday.
“An armed group consisting of 13 French nationals attempted to cross the border in 4×4 vehicles with diplomatic license plates at the Ras Jedir crossing on Sunday,” said Defence Minister Abdelkareem Zubaidi.
The group tried to enter Tunisia on Sunday “under diplomatic cover, with arms and ammunition” he said.
According to the local Mosaique FM radio station, the group wasdeniedentry into Tunisia after failing to disclose the entirety of its arms inventory.
The French embassy in Tunis said the individuals were members of a security detail attached to the French diplomatic mission in Libya which is based in the Tunisian capital.
“[They were] members of the French protection team that provides security protection to the French ambassador for Libya.”
“Given the current situation in Libya, one of the trips which the French embassy undertakes regularly between Tunis and Tripoli, was made by road,” the embassysaid, without mentioning any arms seized.
It said the stop at the border was routine, and after an inventory of equipment, the detachment continued on its route.
uggests their backing is not only diplomatic,” he said.
“The French explanation to this, that those are the security guards of the French ambassador actually made things worse because the French ambassador is based in Tunisia, not Libya.”
Libya, which has been mired in chaos since the NATO-backed toppling of Gaddafi in 2011, has been split into rival eastern and western administrations since 2014.
Analysts say Haftar’s push on the capital threatens to further destabilise the oil-rich country and reignite a full-blown civil war.