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Tunisia rocked by fourth night of street riots

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Tunisia rocked by fourth night of street riots

Police in Tunisia have arrested more than 600 people as violent protesters returned to the streets for the fourth consecutive night.

By Tuesday morning, the military had been dispatched to protect public buildings and conduct joint patrols with police units in several cities to quell the protests. Police fired tear gas and water canons against protesters.

Defense Ministry spokesman Mohamed Zikri said the army had deployed reinforcements in Bizerte in the north, Sousse in the east and Kasserine and Siliana in central Tunisia.

The economy shrank by nine percent previous year and consumer prices have spiralled.

Tunisia on Thursday commemorated the 10th anniversary since the flight into exile of iron-fisted autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, after a popular revolt that foreshadowed pro-democracy uprisings, strife and war in the region during what became known as the Arab Spring.

Analysts are however sceptical that the latest unrests can create more jobs and opportunities.

Some of those arrested had lobbed stones at police and clashed with security forces, leaving two policemen wounded, said Mr Hayouni.

The Tunisian Workers' General Union recalled the disturbances of the constitution, stating that the right to performance was guaranteed.

"As long as there is a complete security response, with mass arrests, and no social or political backlash, the tension will remain high", Ms Lamaloum said.

Unrest spread across Tunisia after the government imposed an anti-virus lockdown amid economic hardship.

"There is denial and underestimation of anger among young people, especially because eleven successive governments (after the fall of Ben Ali) did not have a strategy to answer the central question of employment", said Olama Lamaloum, director of the NGO International Alert in Tunisia, Which works in the most marginal areas of the country.

The key tourism sector, already on its knees after a string of deadly militant attacks in 2015, has been dealt a devastating blow by the pandemic.

Videos circulating on social media showed dramatic chases down alleys between groups of young people and the police who used tear gas to disperse them.

Tunisia has registered more than 177,000 coronavirus infections, including over 5,600 deaths since the pandemic erupted past year.

Sousse, a Mediterranean coastal resort, is a magnet for foreign holidaymaking that has been hit hard by the pandemic.

The health crisis and ensuing economic misery have pushed growing numbers of Tunisians to seek to leave the country, with over 10,000 arriving in boats in Italy a year ago.

On Sunday evening in Ettadhamen, a restive working-class neighbourhood on the edge of the Tunisian capital, the mood was sombre.

"I don't see any future here", said Abdelmoneim, a waiter in Tunis.

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