Hundreds arrested as clashes rock Tunisia

Hundreds arrested as clashes rock Tunisia

Hundreds arrested as clashes rock Tunisia

Khalifa Chibani, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said 44 people had been arrested overnight across the country.

Tunisia has seen days of protests against hikes in value-added tax and social security contributions introduced earlier this month. More than 600 people have been arrested this week for their part in the unrest.

One protestor was killed in Tebourba, a town 40 km (25 miles) west of Tunis.

Mhamdi said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that many Tunisian youth have lost faith in political parties.

"Protesters are not entitled to overthrow the current regime because it is a democratically elected regime", said government spokesman Iyad Dahmani.

"The protesters in marginalized areas are portrayed by the authorities and mainstream media as looters or criminals", she said, but they are expressing "a real social despair".

The continued turmoil yesterday defied calls for calm by Prime Minister Youssef Chahed.

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Hamma Hammami, leader of the opposition Popular Front party, told reporters that multiple opposition groups would meet on Tuesday to "coordinate our movements".

The North African country has been hailed for its relatively smooth democratic transition since a 2011 revolt that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings, but seven years after the revolution, tensions over economic grievances are high.

The 2018 budget also raises customs taxes on some imports, and the Tunis government is trying to cut the public sector wage bill through voluntary redundancies.

Clashes between protesters and police, who fired tear gas to clear the crowds, were recorded in at least 20 towns and cities including Tunis as well as in Gafsa, Kasserine and Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of Tunisia's Arab Spring in 2011. But nine successive governments have failed to get a grip on the economic situation.

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

The government has threatened to crack down on violent protests involving looting and burning of buildings and clashes with police. During the riots, demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails trying to set fire to the famous Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba. Police said they did not kill him and said he had a respiratory condition, according to The Guardian.

"The state is strong, will shoulder its responsibility and will not go back on a law because a number of saboteurs have gone out on the street", said Investment Minister Ziad al-Aazari.

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