Libya guards fire warning shots as crowd tries to storm border

Libyan border guards fired warning shots on Friday to keep back a crowd of people trying to enter Tunisia as they fled the conflict in Libya, a Tunisian army officer said.

Ras Jdir: Libyan border guards fired warning shots on Friday to keep back a crowd of people trying to enter Tunisia as they fled the conflict in Libya, a Tunisian army officer said.

A Tunisian official was wounded by a stray bullet at the Ras Jdir crossing, where the incident took place and which was shut after the clashes.

The Tunisian foreign ministry urged its estimated 50,000 to 60,000 nationals in neighbouring Libya to leave "as soon as possible" because of violence that has raged there since mid-July.

"The ministry of foreign affairs urges Tunisians who find themselves in Libyan territory to return home as soon as possible," a ministry statement said.

Underlining "the deteriorating security situation in several Libyan cities", the ministry urged its citizens to contact Tunisian consular offices in Tripoli and Benghazi to facilitate their repatriation.

The Tunisian army officer said Libyan guards opened fire to push back hundreds of people attempting to force their way across the frontier.

The interior ministry said the head of national security at Ben Guerdane was hit in the leg by a stray bullet from the Libyan side of the border.

A correspondent on the Tunisian side said gunfire was heard from the Libyan side late in the morning, leading to the crossing`s closure.

"The Egyptians wanted to force their way through, and the Libyans fired. If they cross, we will fire too," the Tunisian officer said.

Tunisian interior ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Arui said, "Closure of the crossing is temporary."

He said reinforcements have been sent to deal with any further incidents and to stop weapons or fighters getting through from Libya.

Arui could not say if anyone in the crowd had been hurt.

The ministry estimates 6,000 people are stranded on the Libyan side of Ras Jdir crossing.

Tunisia has been letting its own citizens through and also Libyans with the correct paperwork, but barring Arab and Asian foreigners unless they or their governments have arranged immediate repatriation.

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