Police, street vendors clash in Tunisia

One person was killed and 20 others injured in the clashes.

One person was killed and 20 others injured in the clashes. Picture: sxc.hu

Tunis - One person was killed and 20 were hurt on Tuesday in clashes in the Tunisian town of Bizerte between police and street vendors angry at being moved from the downtown, residents and local media said.

Hundreds of vendors hurled rocks and petrol bombs at the police, who responded with tear gas, Interior Ministry spokesman Lotfi Hidouri said. They also set fire to the market and burned tyres in the road.

Three radio stations said a 70-old man died after inhaling tear gas but the Interior Ministry was unable to confirm this.

Officials said that Bizerte authorities had allocated a new market for the street vendors but they had rejected the move.

Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor in Sidi Bouzid city, set fire to himself in protest at police harassment in December 2010, starting an uprising that toppled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali then spread across the Middle East.

The economic and social problems that fuelled the uprising have yet to be solved. Unemployment now stands at about 17 percent and Tunisia is polarized between Islamists and their opponents and still awaiting a new constitution to advance the transition to democracy.

Several Tunisians have set themselves ablaze in the past two years in protests emulating Bouazizi's action.