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One man shot dead as protesters clash with police across Tunisia

Source: Reuters - Sat, 11 Jan 2014 11:58 GMT
Author: Reuters
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TUNIS, Jan 11 (Reuters) - One man was shot dead in clashes in a Tunisian city near the Algerian border late on Friday after protesters tried to storm a customs office in one of several demonstrations across the country.

Scattered protests over economic hardships have broken out as Tunisia's new prime minister takes office to lead a caretaker administration to end a crisis three years after its uprising ousted Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Tunisia's 2011 revolt and the region-wide Arab Spring uprisings were triggered by a street vendor in Sidi Bouzid setting himself alight in an act of protest.

After months of crisis, the Islamist party which came to power after the revolt resigned this week to make way for Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa's technocrat government until elections this year to complete Tunisia's democratic transition.

Many Tunisians are more worried about the high cost of living, jobs and economic development. Protesters have taken to the streets this week in southern cities to protest against fiscal reforms including a vehicle tax hike.

Tunisia's state news agency TAP said one man was shot and killed when police clashed with protesters trying to ransack a customs office near the southern city of Kasserine.

"Assailants attacked the border point of Bouchebka with Molotov cocktails and hunting rifles to steal its takings, and one customs officer was gravely injured," the interior ministry spokesman told TAP.

Protesters also clashed with police in the upscale La Marsa area of the capital Tunis when they tried to storm a police station, TAP said. In the impoverished Ettadamon district, protesters attacked two bank branches and a government treasury office on Friday night, a Reuters journalist said.

Strikes and protests started in the southern and central towns of Kasserine, Thala and Gafsa last Tuesday and spilled over into Tunis, after calls from transport and agricultural unions against the reforms.

The 2014 budget sets out new taxes to help the government increase public finances - a demand from international lenders which want the government to reduce the country's budget deficit and control public subsidies. (Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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