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Riots break out in several Tunisian cities

RIOTS and violent clashes between Tunisian police and protesters broke out yesterday in the capital Tunis and several other cities for the second consecutive day, as the country faces an unprecedented economic crisis.

Tunisian authorities said earlier that they had arrested 240 people, mostly teenagers, after violent clashes with police in several cities overnight and during the day on Sunday.

A decade on from a revolution against poverty, corruption and injustice, Tunisia has progressed towards democracy but its economic problems have worsened, with the country on the verge of bankruptcy and public services in a dire situation.

The protesters made no clear demands in demonstrations – which authorities described as riots – in at least 10 cities around the country.

In the run-down Ettadamen area of the capital, protesters, most of them teenagers, blocked roads and threw stones at police. Police fired water cannons and tear gas to disperse them on Sunday.

Clashes also spread to the Mnihla area of Tunis.

Internal Security Forces spokesman Walid Hkima said riot police had arrested 242 people, mostly teenagers and children who vandalised property and tried to rob shops and banks.

The protests pose a challenge for the government of Hicham Mechichi, who has reshuffled his cabinet amid an ongoing battle for political influence.

Rural central and southern regions of the country remain flashpoints for rioting.

Witnesses told Reuters that protests were held on Sunday in the central towns of Sbeitla and Kasserine, where police chased the protesters and fired tear gas.

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In Jelma town in the governor of Sidi Bouzid, police dispersed youths who blocked roads and burned tires to protest against their marginalisation and poverty.

Other protests were held in the cities of Ras Djbel, Ksar Hlel and Beja.

By The African Mirror