Tunisia Hit With Looting As New Leader Sworn In

(AP)

Looting, deadly prison riots and street chaos engulfed Tunisia on Saturday, a day after mass protests forced its strongman to flee. A new interim president was sworn in, promising to create a unity government that could include the long-ignored opposition.

It was the second change of power in this North African nation in less than 24 hours.

Amid the political instability, looters emptied shops and torched the main train station in Tunis, soldiers traded fire with assailants in front of the Interior Ministry, and thousands of European tourists sought a plane flight home.

The death toll mounted. At least 42 people were killed Saturday in a prison fire in one resort town and the director of another prison in another tourist haven let 1,000 inmates flee after soldiers shot five dead amid a rebellion. Those deaths came on top of scores of others after a month of protests in which police often fired upon demonstrators.

After 23 years of autocratic rule, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali abruptly fled the country Friday for Saudi Arabia following mass street protests over corruption, a lack of jobs and clampdowns on civil liberties.
AP