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Tunisia: chaos in Kasserine, the death toll gets heavier

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TUNIS - death toll of social unrest that shook Tunisia for almost a month has risen to about fifty dead in the center of the country in three days, according to a union official who referred to a situation of "chaos" on Tuesday in Kasserine, the main city center.

  •    The Interior Ministry has reported four dead and eight policemen injured Monday in Kasserine. The previous official death toll Sunday gave fourteen dead in Thala and Kasserine.
  •    "It's chaos at Kasserine after a night of violence, sniper fire, theft and looting of shops and homes by police personnel in plain clothes who then left," said Sadok Mahmoudi, a member of the branch of Regional General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT).
  •    This story was corroborated by other witnesses questioned by AFP, seeming to indicate that the televised speech Monday of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had failed to defuse the most serious social protests in 23 years of the regime.
  •    "The number of deaths has exceeded fifty, said the union, citing a report obtained from the medical staff at the regional hospital of Kasserine where were transported and booked the body from different places of the region.
  •    A local official who requested anonymity, reported snipers posted on rooftops and police firing at funeral processions in this city 290 km south of the capital, Tunis.
  •    The medical staff at the hospital of Kasserine has disconnected for an hour in protest, the official added, describing "disemboweled corpses, and exploded brains."
  •    In Paris, the president of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), the Tunisian Souhayr Belhassen, had earlier said that at least 35 identified persons were killed this weekend in three towns in the center: Regueb, Thala and Kasserine.
  •    For the Government of Tunisia, Kasserine was "the theater of violence and destruction perpetrated by groups that have attacked two police stations with incendiary bottles, sticks and iron bars."
  •    "After various warnings and firing in the air, the police used weapons in an act of self defense, when the attackers stepped up attacks, throwing tires on fire to force the local police, whose equipment has been burned," said Tuesday the Department of the Interior.
  •    This incident has "caused the death of four assailants and wounded at least eight more or less serious among law enforcement personnel, some of whom suffer from burns," the official statement said.
  •    Amnesty International said that at least 23 people were killed this weekend by security forces who opened fire "in a surge of unprecedented violence against people protesting against their living conditions, unemployment and corruption ".
  •    The movement began on December 17 after the self-immolation of a young street vendor of Sidi Bouzid, central west, 265 kmTunis, who protested against the seizure of his goods by the police. from
  •    On Monday, another young man, Alla Hidouri, 23, graduated from college and unemployed, committed suicide by electrocution in the same region of Sidi Bouzid, according to a witness, bringing to five the number of suicides since mid-December.
  •    Schools and universities were closed from Tuesday until further order throughout the country.
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  • Ennaharonline/ M. O.

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