200 arrested, dozens hurt in Tunisia unrest

13 January, 2018, 00:43 | Author: Greg Santos
  • Police vehicles stop in front of burning tires set up by protesters during demonstrations against rising prices and tax increases in Tunis Tunisia

One protester died in unclear circumstances in Tebourba, a town 40 kilometers west of the capital Tunis.

The protest happened in Tebourba, some 40 km (25 miles) from Tunis.

Some 237 people have been arrested in the past 48 hours for being involved in looting and vandalism, Tunisian Ministry of Interior said on Wednesday.

The protests have been raging across Tunisia since Monday over the new budget plan introduced by the Tunisian government on January 1, which includes a rise in fuel prices and tax hikes.

An AFP correspondent in the northern town of Siliana said police fired tear gas at dozens of youths who pelted them with stones during skirmishes that lasted around three hours overnight.

Tunisia's economy has been in crisis since the 2011 uprising unseated the government and two major militant attacks in 2015 damaged the country's tourism industry, which accounted for eight percent of gross domestic product.

Six years since the 2011 uprising that overthrew Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has been held up as a model by avoiding the violence that affected other nations after their Arab Spring revolts.

In this, as in the austerity measures and social inequality that sparked the protest movement, there are powerful echoes in the upheavals in Tunisia of the mass protests that recently swept Iran.

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Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed responded to the nationwide protests with a law-and-order speech, declaring Tuesday that "the only recourse against looters of public and private properties and their backers is to enforce the law".

The Tunisian government, a coalition of Islamist, secularist and independent factions, have accused criminal and opposition elements of being behind the protests.

Petrol bombs thrown at a Jewish school and synagogue on the tourist resort island of Djerba caused some damage but no injuries, the head of the local Jewish community, Perez Trabelsi, told Reuters.

The military has been deployed to protect government buildings, banks and stores, the defense ministry said.

There have been no figures given for the number of protesters injured in the clashes.

The dashing statement came after a long night of protests against austerity measures hit Tunisian streets. No less than 200 people have been detained by security forces and at least one man has died after clashes broke out.

The protests draw on anger over price and tax increases included in this year's budget that took effect on January 1.

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