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Tunisian president dissolves government

The call for elections in six months comes after overnight reports that 13 people had been killed by security forces, after the president called for a stop to the use of lethal force against protesters.

TUNIS // Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has sacked the government and called early elections in six months, the prime minister announced as weeks of deadly unrest mounted with new clashes.

Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, quoted by the official TAP news agency, said Ben Ali had decided among measures announced late Thursday to calm the unrest "to dismiss the government and call early elections in six months".

He said he had been tasked with forming a new government.

Overnight, security forces shot dead 13 people in the Tunisian capital and suburbs, after the president said he ordered police to stop firing on protesters, medical sources said.

"The bodies of three people struck with bullets were taken to the hospital at Kram, close to Tunis, and 10 others have been brought to Charles Nicole hospital in Tunis," one source told AFP Friday.

The figure was confirmed by another medical worker who took part Friday in a major demonstration against Ben Ali in the city centre and was dispersed by police firing volleys of tear gas.

There was no official confirmation.

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