SILIANA- Protesters clashed with police on Wednesday and torched an office of Tunisia's ruling Islamist party, as strikes degenerated into violence in two marginalised towns, amid rising discontent and political deadlock.
SILIANA- Protesters clashed with police on Wednesday and torched an office of Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party, as strikes degenerated into violence in two marginalised towns, amid rising discontent and political deadlock.
The regions of Siliana, Gafsa and Gabes ground to a halt as strikes were observed to protest against poverty and lack of development.
Those were driving factors behind the popular uprising that toppled veteran strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali nearly three years ago and sparked revolutions across the region.
In Siliana, southwest of Tunis, dozens of demonstrators hurled rocks at police, who tried to disperse them by driving into the crowd and firing tear gas.
The protesters placed burning tyres in the town centre, where stones littered the streets and sporadic clashes continued into the early evening.
here were injuries among both protesters and police, said an AFP photographer, who was himself hit on the head by a stone.
In the poor central region of Gafsa, police fired tear gas to scatter protesters trying to break into the governor’s office, with hundreds of people then attacking the headquarters of the ruling Islamist party Ennahda.
The protesters torched the office and prevented fire crews from gaining access.
“The people want the fall of the regime,” the protesters chanted, taking up the slogan of the 2011 uprisings.
Similar protests have seen Ennahda offices attacked in other provincial towns in recent months.
Mohsen Soudani, an Ennahda representative in Gafsa, criticised the failure of police to intervene.
“We called the police and they didn’t come,” he said, adding that he had urged Ennahda’s youth members in the region not to react to the violence.
Social grievances have multiplied across Tunisia, whose sluggish economic recovery has failed to create jobs or spur regional development, adding to a sense of growing turmoil just weeks before the third anniversary of the first Arab Spring uprising.