By Sana Elouazi
Rabat – More than 200 people were arrested and dozens were injured on Tuesday as a wave of demonstrations continues to shake several cities in Tunisia following new austerity measures resulting from the 2018 Finance bill, which is expected to increase the cost of living.
The spokesman for the Tunisian interior ministry Khalifa Chibani told local media outlets on Wednesday that 49 police officers were also wounded during clashes with protesters across the country and that 206 “troublemakers” were arrested.
“Last night, troublemakers looted and damaged security centers, 45 police vehicles were set on fire and public buildings were attacked,” Chibani said.
“They have blocked roads and stolen in many cities … Obviously, this is not protest, but theft and damage caused to public and private property,” he added.
A Tunisian citizen told Reuter that police fired tear gas in two districts of the North African’s capital Tunis on Tuesday and also fired gas at a crowd storming a supermarket, but no casualties were reported.
According to the state news agency TAP, one protester was killed on Monday after clashes broke out in Tebourba, a town 40 km (25 miles) west of Tunis.
On Djerba island, a Jewish school was also targeted by incendiary cocktails that caused some damage without casualties.
“Unknown people took advantage of the demonstrations to throw Molotov cocktails inside a Jewish religious school in Djerba,” said Perez Trabelsi, the head of the local Jewish community.
Djerba is home to the oldest synagogue in Africa “El Ghriba,” which was targeted in 2002 by Al-Qaida-claimed truck bomb that left 21 dead.
Since the government announced that it would increase the price of gas, oil, cars, phone and internet services, as well as hotel accommodation and other items in the 2018 budget, many protests erupted across the country last week.
The 2018 budget also raises customs duties on scores of imported goods, such as cosmetics and agricultural products.
Protesters took to the street to demand a revision of the 2018 finance bill as well as a better social coverage for needy families and a tangible plan to fight corruption.