Tunisia has declared the Sahara desert area of the North African country a "closed military zone" requiring authorization to travel there.
The official TAP news agency quotes Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Mokhtar Ben Nasr as saying Saturday that special permits are meant mainly for those working there and tourists and foreigners _ who will be surveyed and protected "so they don't get lost."
He notes that more than 5,500 tourists visited the Tunisian Sahara in May.
A desert triangle between Tunisia's borders with Algeria on one side and Libya on the other has become a transit zone for arms and drug traffickers.
On June 20, Tunisian Air Force planes destroyed three vehicles stocked with arms, including rocket launchers, in the desert, also traveled by Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.