Iraqis protest a metal barrier Kuwait is building

Hundreds of Iraqis protested for a second consecutive day Monday at their country's border to protest a metal barrier Kuwait is building along the desert frontier, redrawn by the United Nations after the small state was liberated in 1991 from a seven-month Iraqi occupation.

A Kuwaiti government official speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said the barrier was being erected on the Kuwaiti side of the border and Kuwait was enhancing security in the area. He said there had been no clashes with the protesters.

More than 500 Iraqis gathered at Umm Qasr demanding the project be stopped, as Kuwaiti security forces guarded digging equipment.

The line the U.N. drew after the 1991 Gulf War places 11 oil wells, some farmland and an old naval base that used to be in Iraq on the Kuwaiti side. The government of then Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, recognized the 1993 demarcation.

When Saddam was still in power, jittery Kuwait built a defensive trench along the 210-kilometer (130-mile) border to stop infiltration from Iraq and to prevent Kuwaitis from straying into Iraq. Together with the presence of U.N. peacekeepers, the ditch severely cut border problems.

The peacekeepers left just before the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003 and toppled Saddam's government. Kuwait, a major ally of Washington, was the launch pad for the war.

Although Kuwait has resumed ties with Baghdad and reopened its border with its neighbor, it is building the barrier, which it calls the "border pipe," to stop vehicles from entering the country from the desert. It fears terrorists and smugglers would cross the frontier and threaten security.

An Interior Ministry statement on Monday said Kuwait will deploy an elaborate closed circuit television security system to protect its borders, roads, and oil installations.

The statement did not connect the CCTV plan to the border demonstrations, but it quoted Sheik Nawwaf Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah, the interior minister, as saying in a meeting that the project should be completed as soon as possible and the government will not spare any expense to see it through,AP reports.

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