Tunisia regains total calm after three nights of unrest

  • Tunisia regains total calm after three nights of unrest

Tunisia regains total calm after three nights of unrest

The Tunisian government said the arrests were for vandalism or looting, but the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights cautioned the country to protect the rights of its citizens.

Tunisian authorities arrested another 150 people including local opposition leaders on Friday, bringing the total detained close to 800 in response to demonstrations this week against price and tax rises.

More than 85% of the people arrested are teenagers and young adults between ages 15 and 30, the news agency said.

Chibani said 97 security officers were injured and some 88 police vehicles damaged in the protests.

Incidents of vandalism dropped sharply on Thursday night, Chibani said.

The source did not give more details but it was the first time an official talked about increasing aid since protests, some of them violent, broke out on Monday against austerity measures imposed by the government to cut a budget deficit.

Reacting to the arrests, spokesman for the United Nations human rights office, Rupert Colville, called for calm and restraint and also urged Tunisia's government to ensure freedom of peaceful assembly.

In a written statement, Rupert Colville, spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said authorities must ensure that people are not arrested in an arbitrary manner and that their rights are respected.

At least one person has died since Sunday, when protests against an unpopular new Finance Act, which saw price hikes and Value-Added Tax increases imposed from January 1, first broke out in the capital, Tunis, and across the country.

Last year, the Washington-based International Monetary Fund agreed a four-year loan programme worth about $2.8 billion with Tunisia, tied to economic reforms. The anti-austerity youth movement is named Fech Nestannow, which translates as "What are we waiting for?"

Activists and the opposition have called for fresh protests on Sunday, the seventh anniversary of the toppling of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, the first leader to fall in the 2011 "Arab Spring" protests that swept the region.