Unrest continues to rock Tunisia as prime minister warns of clampdown

Police said the 45-year-old man who died during clashes in Tebourba, 20 miles west of Tunis, had a chronic respiratory condition.

Police have fired tear gas to disperse crowds in the capital Tunis and nearby town Tebourba.

The protests have been raging across Tunisia since Monday over the new budget plan introduced by the Tunisian government on January 1, which includes a rise in fuel prices and tax hikes.

Police have insisted they did not kill him.

Successive governments, however, have struggled to enact fiscal reforms that have been delayed by political infighting and government wariness of social tensions over jobs and economic conditions that helped spark the 2011 uprising.

"People have to understand that the situation is extraordinary and their country has difficulties but we believe that 2018 will be the last hard year for the Tunisians", Chahed told reporters in comments broadcast on local radio.

About 300 people demonstrated in the streets of the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, the center of the country's Arab Spring revolution.

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Tunisia's investment minister said, the government, which is under pressure to cut a ballooning deficit and satisfy worldwide lenders, will not revise austerity measures in the 2018 budget despite the spate of protests.

Tunisia has been hailed as the only democratic success of the Arab Spring: the one Arab country to topple a long-serving leader in that year's uprisings without triggering widespread violence or civil war.

A Jewish school and a historic synagogue were attacked in Djerba as police focused on curbing unrest elsewhere in the country.

The army has been deployed around banks, post offices and other government buildings in the country's main cities, the defence ministry said. He did not give estimates of the number of injured protesters.

Spokesman Ziyad Akhdar, of the Popular Front political umbrella group that has been spearheading some of the protests, called the prime minister's remarks "irresponsible", and called for an "independent inquiry" into who is provoking the violence. One protester apparently died of tear gas inhalation.

The protests draw on anger over price and tax increases included in this year's budget that took effect on January 1.

Worldwide lenders extended a crucial $2.8bn (£2.1bn) loan to Tunisia a year ago, but have demanded cuts to the civil service and a broader austerity programme.

  • Stacy Houston