Tunisians in general strike over killed protester

Clashes broke out between protestor and security forces over economy

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Residents of the southern Tunisian governorate of Tataouine entered a general strike on Tuesday in protest against the killing of a demonstrator during clashes with security forces on Sunday, local media reported.

The Regional General Union of Labor (URT) and the Regional Union for Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (URICA) called for a general strike in all of Tataouine following the clashes in the town of Dhiba.

Public and private institutions have shut their doors, while hospitals and clinics have kept minimal services such as emergency and surgical operations, Tunisian newspaper Assabah News reported.

Protests in Dhiba started over taxes imposed on local traders, Reuters reported, with residents demanding more opportunities and jobs.

Witnesses said police fired bullets and tear gas to disperse crowds who had burned a police station.

“A youth was shot dead by security forces... There are many others injured,” said Kamal Abd-Ltif, a local union official.

On Friday, a new coalition government including secularists and the Islamist Ennahda party took office.

It faces a delicate balancing act. While international lenders want it to curb high public spending, including cutting politically-sensitive subsidies on basic foods and fuel, many Tunisians fret over living costs and the economic outlook.

Protests in Tunisia in 2010 sparked revolutions across the Arab world, and while countries such as Libya and Syria have been torn apart by violence, Tunisia has remained relatively stable.

However, many Tunisians are still frustrated about the lack of economic growth, high unemployment and rising prices.

[With Reuters]