Tunisia: Protests, violent clashes break out in several cities , over 600 rounded up

Tunisia was gripped Saturday and Sunday by chaotic scenes as anger mounts over economic hardship.

More than 600 people were arrested after the of riots in several Tunisian cities and troops have been deployed in some regions, officials said Monday.

Violent protests broke out in at least six Tunisian cities, including the capital Tunis and the coastal city of Sousse, according to several media reports.

Witnesses in Sousse said that security forces fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of angry protesters who blocked roads and burned tires.

Security sources said that young men in Sousse broke into shops and that clashes took place in the city Kalaa Kebira near Sousse.

Interior ministry spokesman Khaled Hayouni said a total of 632 people were arrested, notably “groups of people between the ages of 15, 20 and 25 who burned tires and bins in order to block movements by the security forces”.

The defense ministry said the army had been deployed in several cities.

Two supermarkets, one in Tunis and another in Sousse were targeted and looted by the thugs.

Several security forces were also injured as they tried to bring the situation under control.

The demonstrations come as Tunisia marks the tenth anniversary of the revolution that toppled the late President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab Spring uprisings.

The protests pose a challenge for the government of Hicham Mechichi, who reshuffled the cabinet, with new ministers including at the head of the Ministry of Interior, Justice and Energy.

A decade after the revolution against widespread unemployment, poverty, corruption and injustice, Tunisia made a smooth road towards democracy, but its economic situation worsened, with poor public services and the country came on the verge of bankruptcy.


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