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Protests turn violent in Tunisia over price hikes

Tunisian police track down rioters in Tunis’ Djebel Lahmer district early on Jan. 10, 2018 after price hikes ignited protests in the North African country. (Photo: Sofiene Hamdaoui/AFP/Getty Images)

Protests turn violent in Tunisia over price hikes

More than 200 people have been arrested and dozens hurt during clashes in several parts of Tunisia, the interior ministry said Wednesday, after a second night of unrest driven by anger over austerity measures.

The North African country has been hailed for its relatively smooth democratic transition since its 2011 uprising, but seven years after the revolution tensions over economic grievances are high.

Tunisia has seen rising anger over hikes in value-added tax 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 clashes across the country and that 206 “troublemakers” were arrested overnight.

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

A witness said youths threw stones at shop windows on Tuesday evening, taking advantage of the chaos to steal goods including electrical appliances. The police intervened, firing tear gas.

The army has been deployed around banks, post offices and other government buildings in the country’s main cities, the defense ministry said. (AFP)

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