Violent protests erupted in several Tunisian cities on Sunday as protesters expressed anger over the North African nation’s deteriorating health, economic and social situation.
Thousands of people defied virus restrictions and scorching heat to demonstrate in the capital Tunis and other cities. The largely young crowds shouted “Get out!” and slogans calling for the dissolution of parliament and early elections.
The protests were called on the 64th anniversary of Tunisia’s independence by a new group called the July 25 Movement.
The security forces deployed in force, particularly in Tunis where police roadblocks blocked all the streets leading to the main artery of the capital, Bourguiba Avenue. The avenue was a key site of Tunisia’s revolution a decade ago that toppled a dictatorial regime and sparked the Arab Spring uprisings.
The police also deployed around the parliament, preventing demonstrators from accessing it.
Police used tear gas to disperse some protesters throwing projectiles at officers and made several arrests. Clashes also took place in several other cities, including Nabeul, Sousse Kairouan, Sfax and Tozeur.
Demonstrators also stormed the offices of the Islamist movement Ennahdha, the dominant force in parliament. Videos circulating online showed smoke coming out of the Ennahdha building. The attackers damaged computers and other equipment inside and threw documents in the streets.
The party denounced the attack, saying “criminal gangs” from inside and outside Tunisia are trying to “sow chaos and destruction in the service of an agenda to harm Tunisia’s democratic process”. .
On the coronavirus front, Tunisia has reimposed lockdowns and other virus restrictions as it faces one of the worst virus outbreaks in Africa.
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