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Army brought onto streets to quell Tunisian riots

Interior Minister fired after scores of people killed in three weeks of protest over unemployment.

Image: Pa Photos

TUNISIA’S INTERIOR MINISTER has been sacked after at least 21 demonstrators were killed while protesting over high rates of unemployment and living conditions in the African country.

The BBC and Bloomberg says that the Tunisian army has been deployed on the streets on Tunis to try and control the month-long unrest. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi said today that he was letting go Minister Rafik Belham Kacem in a bid to restore security.

The public outpouring of anger was sparked by an incident last month in which a 26-year-old man set fire to himself to protest about the level of unemployment in Tunisia. The International Monetary Fund is forecasting unemployment in the country to reach over 13 per cent this year, even as the economy grows. The IMF had noted in its annual report on Tunisia in September last year that “the country’s economic recovery remains on fragile footing” and that unemployment was relatively high.

Despite the official government figure of 21 deaths in the last three weeks of protests, the BBC reports that union and health officials claim it could be higher with up to 50 people dying in the central Tunisian town of Kasserine alone. Schools and universities were shut down on Monday in a bid to quell protests.

President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali promised to create 300,000 new jobs over the next two years in a speech to the nation on Monday.

Army brought onto streets to quell Tunisian riots
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  • Unrest in Tunisia

    Tunisia's President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, second left, visits Mohamed Bouazizi, a young man who set himself on fire acting out of desperation after police confiscated the fruits and vegetables he sold without a permit.
  • Unrest in Tunisia

    Tunisian lawyer Abdraouf Ayadi shows injuries to his back he claims were caused by police officers on December 29, 2010 after he was Ayadi arrested for supporting protests over unemployment in the central town of Sidi Bouzid.
  • Unrest in Tunisia

    Demonstrators stage a protest to calling for the resignation of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, featured on posters here.
  • Unrest in Tunisia

    A child holds a sign asking for the release of Tunisians, kept in custody by police following recent protests, during a demonstration held in Tunis last Saturday.
  • Unrest in Tunisia

    A demonstrator picks up debris as police officers look on in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia on Monday.
  • Unrest in Tunisia

    A bank ATM is vandalised during clashes between protestors and police in Ettadhamoun, west of Tunis today.
  • Unrest in Tunisia

    Tunisian Interior Minister Rafik Haj Kacem who was fired from his job after three weeks of unrest in the country over spiralling costs of living and rising unemployment.

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All photos from PA Photos

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