Anti-austerity protests rock Tunisia for fourth day in a row

Jay Jacobs
January 13, 2018

More than 200 people have been arrested, and dozens of police hurt, during clashes between security forces and protesters in Tunisia as anger over price hikes spilt over into unrest, Kenya's Daily Nation reported on Thursday.

It is significant that the center of the protests has not been Tunis, the country's capital and the stronghold of these political institutions dominated by the more privileged layers of the middle class, but rather the impoverished towns of the interior.

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.

Protests broke out in more than 10 towns against price and tax increases put in place by the government in an attempt to stabilize Tunisia's economic crisis.

Police have insisted they did not kill him.

Seven years on, and nine governments later, some of those same problems remain - not helped by a number of terrorist attacks which have damaged Tunisia's tourism industry and foreign investment opportunities.

Earlier, Chahed told a radio station that "we didn't see protests, but instead people breaking things, stealing and attacking Tunisians".

Protests are common in Tunisia in January, when the country marks the anniversary of the revolution that ousted Ben Ali. 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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Two Molotov cocktails have been thrown at a synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba, setting fire to the building.

At least five people were injured in the protests.

In the central town of Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of the protests that sparked the 2011 uprisings, youths blocked roads and hurled stones, and the police retaliated with tear gas, an AFP reporter said.

Tunisian trade deficit reached a record high of 15.59 billion dinars (about US$6.33 billion) until the end of 2017, data from Tunisia National Institute of Statistics shows.

Spokesman Ziyad Akhdar, of the Popular Front political umbrella group that has been spearheading some of the protests, called the prime minister's remarks "irresponsible", and called for an "independent inquiry" into who is provoking the violence.

Increases in taxes and the prices of goods, and the depreciation of currency have only made the situation worse.

Warda Atig is one of the founders and spokespeople for the Fech Netannew - What Are We Waiting For? - campaign, which had organised Friday's protests.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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