Tunisia's anti-unemployment protests spread amid violence

Anti-unemployment protests, which started earlier this week in Tunisia's western central province of Kasserine, have spread to other areas of the country, including the capital Tunis, security officials said Friday, in the worst unrest since the 2010 uprising.

Protesters attacked police posts and torched security cars in Tunis, the north-western city of Jendouba and the northern province of Kairouna late Thursday, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said.

Several stores and two banks were looted during protests in Tunis' impoverished western district of Ettadhamen.  

Clashes meanwhile erupted between protesters and security forces in the central city of Sidi Bouzaid, the birthplace of the 2010 uprising that deposed longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, local media said. No casualties were reported.

The protests started in Kasserine on Sunday after an unemployed young man reportedly suffered a deadly electric shock when he climbed a power pole to protest against a rejected job application.

His death was reminiscent of the December 17, 2010, self-immolation of street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzaid that sparked anti-government protests across Tunisia, which then spread across North Africa and the Middle East.

In a bid to ease tensions in Kasserine, the government unveiled measures on Wednesday, including the creation of 5,000 jobs and the financing of small-scale projects there.

Unemployment rates in Tunisia are estimated to have reached around 15 per cent against 12 per cent in 2010.

Tunisia is widely seen as the sole democratic success story of the 2010-11 Arab revolts.

However, the country has been in the grip of an economic slowdown resulting from the unrest that followed Ben Ali's overthrow.

Tunisia is also struggling against a militant insurgency. Tourism, one of country's main income sources, has been hard hit by militant attacks. 

Last update: Wed, 22/06/2016 - 15:02

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