Tunisia announces curfew following unrest

20:34, January 13, 2011      

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Protesters clash with riot police in Cite Ettadhamen near the Tunisian capital Tunis January 12, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters)

Tunisian Interior Ministry announced curfew in Grand Tunis region starting from 8:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) Wednesday to 5:30 a.m. (0430 GMT) Thursday following unrest spread to the capital on Wednesday.

The move came after violent protests in several districts of the capital, with riot police firing tear gas against demonstrators.

Army tanks and troops have been deployed in central Tunis on Wednesday in the wake of fresh clashes between protestors and police in spite of the dismissing of Interior Minister Rafik Belhadj Kacem hours earlier. It is the first time in years that armored personnel trucks and light tanks were seen in the capital.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi said the army had been deployed in certain parts of the country to protect official buildings from arson and looting, adding that security must be restored if investments are to continue.

The north African country has witnessed clashes between security forces and protestors for more than three weeks. The protestors said they are angry about soaring food and fuel prices and high unemployment rates.

On Monday, Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali pledged 300,000 job opportunities especially for university graduates who have been unemployed for more than two years.

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