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Africa

Overnight clashes in Tunis suburbs

media Protesters in Ettadhamen-Mnihla in the Tunis suburbs, 12 January 2011 Reuters/Stringer

Despite a curfew imposed on the Tunisian capital, witnesses reported clashes between youths and security forces in a suburb Wednesday night. On Thursday the French Interior Ministry said one of two people killed Wednesday in Douz might be a French citizen.

RFI’s correspondent in Tunis, Léa-Lisa Westerhoff, says people were respecting the curfew in the centre of town.

“Last night about 8pm all the shops were closed, restaurants were closed, nobody was on the streets anymore, and police were all over the place,” she said Thursday morning.

“But in the suburbs of Tunis, witnesses have said that they heard shooting, that there have been riots there, and problems.”

Violence was reported mainly in the northern suburbs, where there had been clashes the night before, though there has been no official confirmation.

Westerhoff says yesterday’s troop deployments and the announcement that the Interior Minister was being sacked did not seem to calm demonstrators.

“The announcements made yesterday have not brought calm to the country,” she says, pointing to the demonstrations in Tunis that turned violent.

“This had never happened before. This is clearly a sign that the people are saying: what the government is offering is not enough. It’s not enough to calm us down, and the demonstrations are going on,” she says, adding that “it’s very probable that demonstrations and troubles are going to continue.”

The French Foreign Ministry said Thursday that according to family members, one of the two people killed Wednesday in Douz was a dual French-Tunisian citizen.

"We are continuing to investigate to confirm this fact, and his death,” said the ministry.

Hatem Bettahar, 38, a computer science professor from the Technological University of Compiègne was in Tunisia on an exchange programme, according to the ministry.

Witnesses say Bettahar was killed by police when they opened fire on a protest.

Between 20 and 50 people have died in Tunisia in the past weeks.

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