Fresh Tunisia arrests over wave of unrest

Protesters opposing high new taxes clashed with security forces and were described as looters and thieves by the government
Tunisia protests: Why are people taking to the streets?
Author

13 January, 2018

Hundreds of young people took to the streets of Tebourba, west of Tunis, pelting stones at security forces who responded by firing tear gas at them, an AFP journalist said.

Police have fired tear gas to disperse crowds in the capital Tunis and nearby town Tebourba.

Tunisian authorities said Friday the number of people detained in the wave of violent protests had risen to almost 800, after a provincial town was hit by a night of unrest over the austerity measures.

The Tunisian government is raising fuel prices and taxes on many products and services to reduce the country's annual deficit.

Police have insisted they did not kill him.

He says protesters want to force the government to scrap this year's budget and then freeze or lower prices, since the people continue to get poorer.

"The protests are over the cost of living", a demonstrator in Tunis told the BBC.

But Tunisia has had nine governments since Ben Ali's overthrow, none of which have been able to resolve deep-rooted economic problems.

And more demonstrations are planned in the coming days to mark seven years since the ouster of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, 2011. The army was also deployed in several other cities, including Sousse, Kebeli and Bizert to protect government buildings that have become a target for protesters.

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Tunisian government security forces used teargas to quell violence across the country, amid scattered protests that erupted last week following price increases imposed by the government.

The country has been hailed for its relatively smooth democratic transition but seven years after the revolution tensions over economic grievances are high.

Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed had appealed for calm, promising that the economy would improve this year.

A Jewish school and a historic synagogue were attacked in Djerba as police focused on curbing unrest elsewhere in the country.

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

The Tunisian revolution and Arab Spring started in December 2010 after street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi burned himself to death in the town of Sidi Bouzid in protest over unemployment, poverty, police harassment and graft.

Khayyam ibn al-Sadiq al-Yafrani died during the demonstration after being hit by a security vehicle as it passed near the protesters who had blocked a road with burning tires.

"Prices of medicine have increased".

Worldwide lenders extended a crucial $2.8bn (£2.1bn) loan to Tunisia past year, but have demanded cuts to the civil service and a broader austerity programme.


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