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Fresh wave of anti-government protests hit Tunisia

A youth was killed in southern Tunisia Sunday as new anti-government protests erupted. Meanwhile, the military deployed in the town of Kef where a police headquarters was torched after four people were killed in clashes.


AFP - Fresh anti-government protests erupted across Tunisia Sunday with one youth killed in clashes in the south of the country while a police headquarters was set ablaze and army troops deployed in the northwestern town of Kef.

Three weeks after president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in a popular revolt that has reverberated across the Arab world, the country is still mired in turmoil, with protesters demanding the removal of old-regime officials and warning against any attempt to hijack their revolution.

In the southern town of Kebili, one youth died overnight after he was hit by a tear gas canister during clashes with security forces, the state news agency TAP reported.

The agency said security forces intervened after a gang of youths tried to attack and set fire to a national guard post outside the town.

"A youth died after he was hit in the head by a tear gas canister and several people were injured and hospitalized," TAP added.

It said the youths then attacked another national guard post in the town before marching to the governor's residence, prompting army troops to intervene.

TAP also reported "sit-ins and protests outside the governor's office in Kebili Saturday to protest the appointment of a new governor.

The army was also deployed in the northwestern town of Kef where four people were killed the day before and where protesters set a police station ablaze amid fresh clashes Sunday.

"There's panic in the town. The district's security forces building is on fire," said labour union activist Raouf Hadaoui by telephone.

An interior ministry source said Sunday that two people were killed and 13 injured, including four policemen, in the Kef unrest, without giving further details.

Hadaoui said several police cars had been torched and fires were threatening to spread from the police station to neighbouring homes.

"The army has been deployed all around the town and is trying to help the ambulance services," he added .

Gangs of youths attacked and ransacked the police station before setting it on fire, he said. Hadaoui alleged they had been "paid by the (former ruling party) RCD to sow trouble."

TAP said the demonstrators had taken documents and equipment from the police station before setting it on fire.

Several hundred demonstrators had been calling for Kef police chief Khaled Ghazouani to be sacked for abuse of power, according to TAP.

The situation degenerated on Saturday when Ghazouani slapped one of the protesters and the crowd tried to rush the police station and set it ablaze.

Police opened fire, killing two demonstrators, aged 19 and 36, and seriously wounding three others, according to union sources.

Two of those injured later died of their wounds, union activists and a local resident told AFP later Saturday.

A union source said Ghazouni had subsequently been arrested and the situation was calm late Saturday.

TAP meanwhile reported the arrests of two members of the security forces suspected over the deaths of two detainees in Sidi Bouzid, in the centre of the country.

On Friday, several hundred people had demonstrated in front of the police station there after medical staff at the local hospital said they had found burn marks on the victims' bodies.

In the ensuing unrest they had burned three police cars, a witnessed told AFP.

Confirming the deaths, Interior Minister Farhat Rajhi said they might have been committed by supporters of the ousted Ben Ali regime.

It was in Sidi Bouzid that a young man, Mohamed Bouazizi, died after setting himself on fire on December 17, triggering the uprising.

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