Deadly Unemployment Protests Hit Thala, Western Tunisia

At least one person has been killed in fresh unrest over unemployment in Tunisia, eyewitnesses say.

(BBC)

Protests sparked by high youth unemployment have spread from the central town of Sidi Bouzid to other parts chiefly in the north African country's interior, which lags behind the more prosperous coastal areas

At least one person has been killed in fresh unrest over unemployment in Tunisia, eyewitnesses say.

One hospital source told Reuters news agency that one person had been shot dead during a demonstration in the western town of Thala.

AFP news agency, quoting witnesses as saying police had fired on protesters, put the death toll at four.

There has been no comment from Tunisian officials. The protests erupted last month over a lack of freedom and jobs.

A hospital source Thala, about located about 200 km (125 miles) southwest of the capital Tunis, that several people had been admitted to the hospital after the latest clashes. "At least one was killed," he said.

On Friday, the US expressed concern over the government's handling of the demonstrations.

State department spokesman PJ Crowley said the Tunisian government was asked to respect people's right to assemble peacefully.

The demonstrations began after a man set fire to himself on 17 December in the central Sidi Bouzid region to protest against the police confiscating fruit and vegetables that he was selling without a permit.

He died on Tuesday, while another man is reported to have electrocuted himself as part of the protests.

Demonstrations are rare in Tunisia, where there are tight controls aimed at preventing dissent. The unrest has been linked to frustrations with the president and the ruling elite.

There have been similar protests in over jobs and food in neighbouring Algeria.

Two people have been killed and hundreds wounded during riots in several Algerian regions in recent days.