200 arrested, dozens hurt in fresh Tunisia unrest

More than 200 people were 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

Ministry spokesman Khalifa Chibani told local radio that 49 police officers were wounded during clashes across the country and that 206 “troublemakers” were arrested.

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

Police and army forces were deployed in several cities during the night, including in Tebourba 30 kilometres (20 miles) west of the capital Tunis, where hundreds of young people took to the streets after the funeral of a man in his 40s who died in unrest on Monday night.

Police have insisted they did not kill the man. The results of an autopsy have not been made public.

Unrest was also reported in the southern city of Gafsa, in Kasserine in central Tunisia and in Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of the protests that sparked the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

Tunisia has seen several days of demonstrations after activists and politicians denounced hikes in value-added tax and social contributions introduced at the start of the year as a tough new budget was implemented.

Protests are common in the North African state in the month of January, when Tunisians mark the anniversary of the 2011 revolt that unseated dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

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