200 arrested, dozens hurt in Tunisia unrest


More than 200 people have been arrested and dozens of police hurt during clashes in Tunisia, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday, as anger over austerity measures spilled over into unrest.

The North African country has been hailed for its relatively smooth democratic transition since a 2011 revolt that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings, but seven years after the revolution, tensions over economic grievances are high.

Tunisia has seen rising anger over hikes in VAT and social contributions after a tough new budget was applied at the start of the year.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khalifa Chibani told local radio that 49 police officers were wounded during a second night of clashes across the country and that 206 "troublemakers" were arrested.

Properties were damaged, he said, including a branch of the Carrefour supermarket chain in a suburb of Tunis that was looted.

After a calm day on Wednesday, residents said demonstrators in the evening took to the streets of Tebourba, a town west of the capital Tunis where a man in his 40s died in unrest on Monday night.

On a visit to a nearby town, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed condemned acts of "vandalism" that "serve the interests of corrupt networks to weaken the state", pointing the finger at a leftist party that called for protests.

Fresh clashes broke out on Wednesday night in the northern town of Siliana, where youths threw stones and molotov cocktails at security forces. Police responded with tear gas, an AFP correspondent said.

Similar scenes occurred in Kasserine, a town in Tunisia's neglected central region, with protesters burning tires to block roads and some throwing stones at police.

The army has been deployed around banks, post offices and other government buildings in the country's main cities, the defence ministry said.

There have been no figures given for the number of protesters injured in the clashes. (AFP)

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