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Tunisia's austerity protests turn fatal

Tunisia's austerity protests turn fatal

After a calm day on Wednesday, residents said demonstrators in the evening took to the streets of Tebourba, a town west of the capital Tunis where a man in his 40s died in unrest on Monday night. "The only solution for confronting those involved in looting and attacks on Tunisians and their properties is applying the law".

Individuals with "criminal records" infiltrated the protests in Kelibia, in the Nabeul governorate, TAP said. There is no available figure on the number of injured protesters.

In Jebeniana and Sfax, protesters peacefully marched through the two cities.

Tunisians have held rallies across the country to protest the government's new austerity measures, aimed at minimizing the country's deficit.

The protests late on Wednesday in multiple towns appeared less violent than previous nights as heavy security was deployed at key sites.

Police have insisted they did not kill the man and said he suffered from "respiratory problems".

Leila Ghrairi, 51, a civil servant who came to support the protesters in Tunis, said she was not anxious about another Arab Spring.

Tunisia's economy has been in crisis since the 2011 uprising unseated the government and two major militant attacks in 2015 damaged the country's tourism industry, which accounted for eight percent of gross domestic product.

TUNISIA-PROTESTS
Riot police clash with protesters during demonstrations in Tunis on Wednesday against rising prices and tax increases

There were no protests in Djerba but locals said the assailants had exploited the fact that there was a reduced security presence as police was busy elsewhere combating anti-government protests around the country.

The protests draw on anger over price and tax increases included in this year's budget that took effect on 1 January.

Mhamdi, who participated in the demonstrations in the coastal city Sousse, told the news agency that Tunisian youth have "lost faith" in all political parties.

"The government is ready to listen, but every person wanting to demonstrate must do so peacefully", he said.

"People are angry and poverty is rising".

"We had hoped that our lives would become better, that we get jobs and housing, but everything has turned for the worse", said Bashir Hussein, one of the disgruntled graduates. "We have to push this government to do something".

The rise in prices that came as a result of the economic reform is part of the guarantees given by the state to the International Monetary Fund, as part of a package of benefits it received for the rehabilitation of its economy.

Political analyst Hammami said the government is still "living in denial" of the country's economic situation.