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Tunisian police officer killed as unrest over joblessness spreads

Published 21/01/2016

Police forces stand by tear gas during clashes in the city of Ennour, near Kasserine, Tunisia (AP)
Police forces stand by tear gas during clashes in the city of Ennour, near Kasserine, Tunisia (AP)

A Tunisian police officer has died in clashes with young protesters who had overturned his car during one of a series of demonstrations against mass unemployment.

The incident came as unrest triggered by the death of an unsuccessful jobseeker spread to at least 11 cities around the country.

Tensions have risen in the Kasserine region since Sunday when a young man was electrocuted after scaling a transmission tower to protest against his rejection for a government job.

Protests spread to several cities overnight into Thursday, including the capital Tunis.

Unemployment is around 15% in Tunisia, but far higher outside the capital region. Among young people, it stands at around 30%.

"We have been waiting for things to get better for five years, and nothing has happened. We're tired of broken promises," said Yassine Kahlaoui, a 30-year-old jobseeker who was among more than 1,000 people gathered at the local government building in Kasserine.

An interior ministry spokesman said the police officer was attacked by the crowd as he tried to leave his car during a protest in Feriana, in the Kasserine region.

He said unrest elsewhere injured 59 officers, while medical officials estimated that around 40 protesters suffered injuries.

The suicide five years ago of another unemployed youth in the area set off a popular uprising that overthrew Tunisia's long-time ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and eventually gave rise to the "Arab Spring" uprisings across North Africa.

Tunisia's government announced a series of measures for the outlying regions on Wednesday and an investigative commission to look into allegations of corruption.

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