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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Nearly 800 arrested as protests continue in Tunisia

Violence triggered by tax increases continues in northern provincial town

Tunisian protesters take to the streets in Siliana, about 130 kilometres south of Tunis, on January 11, 2018 as anger over austerity measures fuelled unrest. Faouzi Dridi / AFP
Tunisian protesters take to the streets in Siliana, about 130 kilometres south of Tunis, on January 11, 2018 as anger over austerity measures fuelled unrest. Faouzi Dridi / AFP

Nearly 800 people have been arrested in a wave of violent protests in Tunisia, authorities said on Friday after fresh unrest over austerity measures hit a provincial town.

Police fired tear gas at dozens of youths who pelted them with stones for some three hours overnight in the northern town of Siliana.

But the situation appeared calm in other flashpoint towns and neighbourhoods across the country where clashes with police left dozens of officers injured.

Interior ministry spokesman Khalifa Chibani said 151 people were arrested on Thursday, taking the number detained in several nights of unrest to 778.

He said clashes between youths and police were limited and "not serious", and insisted no acts of violence, theft or looting were reported on Thursday evening.

Activists have called for a major protest on Friday over tax increases introduced at the start of the year that are expected to see prices rise.

Tunisia is considered a rare success story of the Arab Spring uprisings that began in the North African country in 2011 and spread across the region, toppling autocrats.

But the authorities have failed to resolve the issues of poverty and unemployment.

Protests are common in Tunisia in January, when people mark the anniversary of the revolution that ousted long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

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Read more:

Tunisia deploys army as violent protests intensify

Austerity threatens to unpick Tunisia's progress

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