Tunisia orders curfew in restive mining town

AP News
Posted: Mar 13, 2011 4:11 PM
Tunisia orders curfew in restive mining town

Tunisian authorities have ordered a curfew in a central mining town amid simmering unrest following deadly clashes between police and protesters, the state news agency reported Sunday.

The 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, initiated Saturday, was imposed on Metlaoui, where clashes two days earlier left two people dead and 20 injured, the TAP agency said. Troops dispersed protesters in lingering unrest Saturday.

The move marked the latest sign of Tunisia's struggle to restore stability after a revolution that ousted autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power and sparked uprisings in the Arab world.

The protests began amid rumors that the regional phosphate mining company was secretly recruiting in a specific tribal area _ instead of opening its jobs to the entire local population. Authorities have denied the rumors.

Also Sunday, several thousand former political prisoners from Ben Ali's era _ many of them Islamists _ led a peaceful, celebratory demonstration in Tunis along with their relatives, friends and supporters.

The rally, organized by a support group for political prisoners that had been banned under Ben Ali, was made possible by a general amnesty decree by the interim government last month. Advocates of the measure say that it has emptied Tunisia's prisons of political detainees.