Army deployed to Tunisia

Posted January 13, 2018

Khalifa Chibani, spokesman for Tunisia's interior ministry, told Tunisia's TAP news agency that at least 58 members of the security forces have been injured and 57 police vehicles damaged, according to The Associated Press.

A small group of demonstrators gathered in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, on Thursday, demanding the release of hundreds arrested in anti-government protests.

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.

Violent anti-government protests have raged in other towns in the North African country since Monday, among them the tourist resort of Sousse, against price and tax rises imposed by government to cut a ballooning deficit and satisfy global lenders. The police say he was not killed by their employees.

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Protests have intensified in response to a reviewed tax policy and price increases guaranteed by the current fiscal law in Tunisia.

Protests are common in Tunisia in January, when the country marks the anniversary of the revolution that ousted Ben Ali.

Tunisia is marking seven years since a popular uprising overthrew the autocratic president and unleashed revolt across the Arab world.

In the city of Sidi Bouzid in central Tunisia, protesters took to the streets for the second day in a row on Monday to denounce price increases and call for revisions to the Finance Act, TAP reported, noting that more protests were scheduled in the coming days.

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Chahed, who heads a coalition of secular and Islamist parties, has said that 2018 will be a hard year for Tunisia but the economy will improve rapidly once the new measures take effect.

The Tunisian government, a coalition of Islamist, secularist and independent factions, have accused criminal and opposition elements of being behind the protests.

On Tuesday, suspected Islamists threw petrol bombs at a Jewish school on the tourist island of Djerba. Protesters have burned dozens of state buildings, prompting the government to send the army into several cities and towns.

One protester told Arab media his main goal is to force the government to reverse its decision to introduce a value-added tax and raise prices on some basic staples.

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Global lenders extended a crucial $2.8bn (£2.1bn) loan to Tunisia previous year, but have demanded cuts to the civil service and a broader austerity programme.