ibusinesslines.com March 21, 2018

At least 773 detained in protests in Tunisia

14 January 2018, 03:14 | Erica Roy

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Some anti-austerity protests have turned violent in recent days

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption Some anti-austerity protests have turned violent in recent days

They have been arrested over charges of looting, ransacking, blocking roads and vandalism, according to Colonel Khalifa Chibani, spokesman of the Interior Ministry.

Almost 800 Tunisians have now been arrested following clashes which broke out as a result of mass demonstrations against government austerity measures.

"Unknown people took the opportunity of the protests and threw Molotov cocktails into the lobby of (the)... school", the head of the local Jewish community, Perez Trabelsi, told Reuters.

People take part in a protest in Tunis, capital of Tunisia, on January 12, 2018.

According to an Anadolu Agency correspondent covering Friday's demonstration, several protesters tried to breach a security barrier set up outside the provincial headquarters but were prevented from doing so by police.

Meanwhile, the ministry said the situation in Tunisia has been gradually calming.

"Tunisian security forces must refrain from using excessive force and end their use of intimidation tactics against peaceful demonstrators", the rights group said.

The United Nations expressed concern at the number of arrests, and urged the authorities to ensure people can protest peacefully.

One protester died in unclear circumstances in Tebourba, a town 40 kilometers west of the capital Tunis.

In the southwestern city of Gafsa, meanwhile, dozens of supporters of the Popular Front (a parliamentary coalition that holds 15 of the assembly's 217 seats) demonstrated against the arrest of three leftist opposition activists.

Tunisia is considered a rare success story of the Arab Spring uprisings that began in the North African country in 2011 and spread across the region.

Political scientist Hamza Meddeb said there was "very strong social anger" over a "political class increasingly cut off from the population" and because protests had not yet resulted in any concrete improvement.

European governments warned their citizens about potential rioting on Friday and this weekend, when Tunisia marks seven years since the ouster of President Zine Ben Abidine Ben Ali. The organization said he died after a police auto ran him over twice but Tunisia's Ministry of Interior said that he had suffocated to death from tear gas because he had a chronic respiratory condition.

The interior ministry said the aim of the perpetrators was to "sow chaos like that recorded in some parts of the country".

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