Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Entertaiment | By Minnie Bishop

Tunisia deploys army as violent unrest persists

Tunisia deploys army as violent unrest persists

"We're concerned about the high number of arrests, some 778 people we understand have now been arrested since Monday, and around a third of those arrested were between the ages of 15 and 20 so very young", United Nations human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva.

"This law includes the introduction of a new social contribution on profits and wages, and an increase in Value-Added Tax which coincides with surcharges on certain products".

Trying to calm protesters' anger, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed made a surprise visit to Tebourba, a town about 20 miles from the capital of Tunis, where a 45-year-old protester, Khomsi Yefrni, died in unclear circumstances on Monday night.

He suffered from a "chronic shortness of breath" and carried "no signs of violence or [having been] run over", and a forensic doctor has been tasked with determining the cause of death, the statement said.

"What happened had nothing to do with democracy and protests against price hikes", he said in an interview on Tuesday.

Properties were damaged, the ministry said, including a branch of the Carrefour supermarket chain in the suburbs of Tunis that was looted.

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. "In the first phase [of deployment], 2,000 soldiers were dispatched Tuesday evening to 123 different parts of the country". Food prices have also risen by about 8 percent each year since the 2011 revolution, while unemployment stands at over 15 percent.

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Protests to mark the anniversary of Tunisia's 2011 uprising which saw the overthrow of autocrat ruler Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali are not uncommon in January.

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

At the beginning of January, the government raised prices on staple goods in an effort to cut the country's deficit.

Activists have called for a major demonstration tomorrow against the country's austerity measures which will provoke an increase to daily cost of living.

Two Molotov cocktails have been thrown at a synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba, setting fire to the building. The police insisted they did not kill him, and said he suffered from "respiratory problems". There is no available figure on the number of injured protesters.

The defence ministry said the army is now protecting banks, post offices and other government buildings in Tunisia's main cities.

"What happened is violence that we can not accept". The demonstrations are largely driven by economic grievances.

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