Tunisian officer killed as unrest over joblessness spreads

AP News
Posted: Jan 21, 2016 11:27 AM
Tunisian officer killed as unrest over joblessness spreads

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — A Tunisian police officer died in clashes with young protesters who had overturned his car during one of a series of demonstrations against mass unemployment, as unrest triggered by the death of an unsuccessful job-seeker spread to at least 11 cities around the country.

Tensions have risen in the Kasserine region since Sunday when a young man was electrocuted after scaling a transmission tower to protest his rejection for a government job. Protests spread overnight into Thursday to several cities, including the capital, Tunis.

Unemployment is around 15 percent in Tunisia, but far higher outside the capital region. Among young people, it's around 30 percent.

"We have been waiting for things to get better for five years, and nothing has happened. We're tired of broken promises," said Yassine Kahlaoui, a 30-year-old jobseeker who was among more than a thousand of people gathered at the local government building in Kasserine.

Interior Ministry spokesman Walid Louguini said the police officer was attacked by the crowd as he tried to leave his car during a protest in Feriana, in the Kasserine region. Louguini said unrest elsewhere injured 59 officers; medical officials estimated about 40 injured among protesters.

The suicide five years ago of another unemployed youth in the area set off a popular uprising that overthrew Tunisia's longtime ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and eventually gave rise to the "Arab Spring" uprisings across North Africa.

Tunisia's government on Wednesday announced a series of measures for the outlying regions and an investigative commission to look into allegations of corruption.