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updated: 12/15/2017 10:22 AM

Germany to fund more surveillance along Tunisia-Libya border

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BERLIN -- Germany is pouring money into the creation of electronic surveillance systems along Tunisia's eastern border, designed to prevent extremists and migrants from slipping across into the country from neighboring Libya, a government spokesman said Friday.

Tunisia stepped up security measures along the 300-mile frontier in 2015 following attacks by Islamic extremists believed to have received training in Libya. But European governments have also been seeking ways to halt the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean from Africa in recent years, including by funding border security measures in key countries.

A spokesman for Germany's defense ministry, Michael Henjes, said that Berlin has earmarked 18 million euros ($21.3 million) in financial support to install permanent radar systems along the Tunisian border.

The project is being managed by the U.S. government's Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Germany has already provided mobile observation equipment worth 16 million euros to Tunisia last year.

Henjes said the funds, which come from Germany's defense budget, are intended to help Tunisia "help itself."

Opposition lawmakers accused the German government of trying to turn Tunisia into a front line in the fight against migration and subsidizing Europe's arms and surveillance industry.

Left party lawmaker Andrej Hunko cited promotional material from Airbus hailing its surveillance equipment as a means of tackling the "wave of illegal immigrants" coming to Europe. Airbus' military sensor business has since been bought by U.S. investment firm KKR and now operates under the name Hensoldt.

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