One dead, 800 detained in Tunisia protests

One dead, 800 detained in Tunisia protests

Several Tunisian cities were swept by protests over the government's austerity measures with more protests expected before January 14, the anniversary marking the ousting of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the country's former autocrat.

Activists in Tunisia have called for a major demonstration against the government's decision to increase taxes and the prices of basic goods, after hundreds of people were arrested in previous days of protests.

According to him, 21 security officers were injured and a dozen police vehicles damaged during the unrest.On Wednesday, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed visited one of the affected areas, where he criticized the main opposition party backing the protests - the Popular Front - and said criminal networks were exploiting the unrest. The Interior Ministry says about 800 people were detained.

The government, however, has vowed to stick to its budget.

"We're concerned about the high number of arrests, some 778 people we understand have now been arrested since Monday, and around a third of those arrested were between the ages of 15 and 20 so very young", United Nations human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva.

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The authorities respected the right to protest but acts of vandalism were being brought under control, the government said in a statement.

A Tunisian citizen told Reuter that police fired tear gas in two districts of the North African's capital Tunis on Tuesday and also fired gas at a crowd storming a supermarket, but no casualties were reported.

But Tunisia's economy has fallen stagnant partly due to its sluggish tourism sector.

"Young people are disappointed with the revolution, especially because of the high cost of living", she said, pointing to "deepening social inequalities" highlighted by official figures showing rising poverty, unemployment and illiteracy among young people.

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