Libyan forces advance on rebel border crossing

DEHIBA - Libyan rebel fighters pulled back towards a border crossing with Tunisia on Thursday after forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi advanced towards them, a Reuters photographer said.

A Tunisian man at the Dehiba-Wazin border crossing, controlled by the rebels since last week, told Reuters that travellers and Tunisian border officials were leaving the checkpoint in anticipation of the arrival of pro-Gaddafi forces.

"We are in a state of alert. We have information that Gaddafi's forces are getting closer. We are ready," a rebel at the border, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters.

The Tunisian man who was near the crossing point said by telephone: "Everybody is starting to leave the place. The (Tunisian) customs people have been evacuated."

Rebel fighters from the restive Western Mountains region of Libya took control of the border crossing last week and since then expanded the area under their control to reach about 10 km (six miles) inside Libyan territory.

The Reuters photographer, who was on the Tunisian side of the border, said fighters who had been stationed away from the border were now pulling back to the crossing.