Large scale protests erupt in Tunisia over austerity measures

Large scale protests erupt in Tunisia over austerity measures

More than 200 people were arrested and dozens hurt during clashes in several parts of Tunisia, the interior ministry said Wednesday, after a second night of unrest driven by anger over austerity measures.

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More than 200 people were arrested and dozens hurt during clashes in several parts of Tunisia, the interior ministry said Wednesday, after a second night of unrest driven by anger over austerity measures.

Interior Ministry Spokesman Khalifa Chibani told local radio that 49 police officers were wounded during clashes across the North African country and that 206 “troublemakers” were arrested.

Properties were damaged, he said, including a branch of the Carrefour supermarket chain in the suburbs of Tunis that was looted and a car pound in Kasserine that was ransacked. Chibani added that buildings of the security forces were also damaged in the southern town of Hamma.

The unrest “had nothing to do with democracy or social demands,” he told the Shems FM radio station.

National Security agency spokesman Walid Ben Hkima denounced “acts of violence and ransacking”.

Police and army forces were deployed in several cities during the night, including in Tebourba 30 kilometers (20 miles) west of the capital Tunis, where hundreds of young people took to the streets after the funeral of a man in his 40s who died in unrest on Monday night.

Police have insisted they did not kill the man and said he suffered from “respiratory problems”. The results of an autopsy have not been made public.

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

Unrest was also reported in the southern city of Gafsa, in Kasserine in central Tunisia and in Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of the protests that sparked the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

A Jewish school on a Tunisian island that is home to an ancient Jewish community was attacked late on Tuesday, witnesses said.

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.

There were no protests in Djerba but locals said the assailants had exploited the fact that there was a reduced security presence as police was busy elsewhere combating anti-government protests around the country.

“Unknown people took the opportunity of the protests and threw Molotov cocktails into the lobby of a Jewish religious school in Djerba,” Trabelsi said.

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