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Tunisia: Number of Detained During Ongoing Protests Rises to almost 800

Tunisia: Number of Detained During Ongoing Protests Rises to almost 800

The number of those detained in the ongoing protests in Tunisia has risen to 778 after 151 people were arrested on Thursday, Interior Ministry spokesman Khalifa Chibani has announced.

The protest happened in Tebourba, some 40 km (25 miles) from Tunis.

More than 600 people have been arrested in Tunisia in the last week for theft, looting and arson as tensions over austerity measures reach boiling point.

They have demanded a revision of the legislation behind the Value-Added Tax and social contribution hikes, as well as better welfare for struggling families.

Almost 800 people have been arrested in a wave of violent protests in Tunisia, authorities said on Friday after fresh unrest over austerity measures hit a provincial town.

On Monday, protests erupted in more than 10 towns across Tunisia against price and tax increases imposed by the government to reduce a ballooning deficit and an economic crisis.

Hundreds of young people took to the streets of Tebourba, west of Tunis, pelting stones at security forces who responded by firing tear gas at them, an AFP journalist said.

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

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Hammami, who attended the protests in the capital, Tunis, on Tuesday, told Al Jazeera that an estimated 400 people were in attendance. The protests, especially in the southern regions, are mainly against high unemployment rates and rising fuel prices.

The belt-tightening was promised to the International Monetary Fund as its price for the $2.9 billion loan it extended in 2016 to Tunisia, which is still laboring to revive its economy seven years after the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the first of the Arab Spring dictators to fall.

Tunisia has been hailed as the only democratic success of the Arab Spring: the one Arab country to topple a long-serving leader in that year's uprisings without triggering widespread violence or civil war.

Tunisia's unity government, which includes Islamists, secular parties and independents - has portrayed the unrest as driven by criminal elements.

Activists have vowed to continue protests until the austerity measures are reversed, with more major rallies planned for Friday and Sunday, coinciding with the seventh anniversary of Ben Ali's fall.

"Police carried out raids to "arrest troublemakers and rioters involved in looting and stealing". Some police stations, municipal buildings and customs depots were even set on fire.

A synagogue and a Jewish school on the island of Djerba were also attacked with petrol bombs. The police insisted they did not kill him, and said he suffered from "respiratory problems".

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