1 killed in anti-government protests in Tunisia

REUTERS
TUNIS
Published

1 protestor was killed on Monday during clashes between security forces and protesters in a Tunisian town near the capital Tunis, state news agency TAP and residents said. On Monday, protests erupted in more than 10 towns across Tunisia against price and tax increases imposed by the government to reduce a ballooning deficit and an economic crisis.

Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed sought to calm anti-austerity protesters yesterday with promises of an end to economic hardship. Khelifa Chibani, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said 44 people had been arrested for carrying weapons such as knives, setting government buildings on fire and looting shops. PM Chahed told reporters that while demonstrations were acceptable, violence was not. "People have to understand that the situation is extraordinary and their country is having difficulties but we believe that 2018 will be the last difficult year for the Tunisians," Chahed said.

Anger has been building up since the government said that, from Jan. 1, it would increase the price of gasoil, some goods, and taxes on cars, phone calls, the internet, hotel accommodation and other items, part of austerity measures agreed with its foreign lenders. The protests are much smaller compared to previous turmoil seen in Tunisia since the overthrow of autocrat ruler Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

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