Tunisia: Security situation under control after violent protests

The security situation in Tunisia is under control, Prime Minister Habib Essid said on Saturday, a day after authorities announced a night-time curfew across the country following violent protests against unemployment.

"The general security scene in the country is good and improving," Essid said at a televised press conference. "The army and police are in control of the situation except some scattered areas."

Essid made the remarks following a crisis cabinet meeting on how to put down violent protests that erupted in several areas of the country, including the capital Tunis, earlier this week.

At least 261 people were arrested on suspicion of involvement in attacks on state institutions and private properties during the protests, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said Saturday.

On Friday, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essibsi accused what he called "external forces and ill-intentioned hands" of exploiting the "legitimate grievances” of protesters in order to cause unrest in the country.

The protests were seen as Tunisia’s worst street unrest since the 2010 uprising that deposed longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The demonstrations started Sunday in the western central province of Kasserine, where protesters took to the streets demanding jobs.

The protests spread to other parts of Tunisia after an unemployed youth in Kasserine reportedly suffered a deadly electric shock when he climbed a power pole to protest against a rejected job application.

His death was reminiscent of the December 17, 2010, self-immolation of street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi that sparked anti-government protests across Tunisia, which then spread across North Africa and the Middle East.

A policeman was killed in Kasserine's town of Feriana on Wednesday when his car overturned during clashes with protesters.

Unemployment rates in Tunisia are estimated to have reached about 15 per cent, up from 12 per cent in 2010.

Tunisia is widely regarded as the sole democratic success story of the 2010-11 Arab Spring uprisings.

However, the country has been in the grip of an economic slowdown resulting from the unrest that followed Ben Ali's overthrow.

Tunisia is also struggling to control a militant insurgency.

Tourism, one of country's main sources of income, has been hard hit by attacks mostly claimed by the terrorist Islamic State militia. 

Last update: Sat, 23/01/2016 - 17:24
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