Thousands protest in Tunisia over health and economic problems

The largely young crowds chanted slogans calling for the dissolution of parliament and early elections.

Thousands protest in Tunisia over health and economic problems

Violent demonstrations have broken out in several Tunisian cities as protesters expressed anger at the deterioration of the North African nation’s health, economic and social situation.

Thousands of people defied virus restrictions and scorching heat to demonstrate in the capital Tunis and other cities.

The largely young crowds chanted slogans calling for the dissolution of parliament and early elections.

The protests were called on the 64th anniversary of Tunisia’s independence by a new group called the July 25 Movement.

A Tunisian police officer chases protesters (Hassene Dridi/AP)

Security forces were deployed in force, especially in Tunis where police blocked all streets leading to the main artery of the capital, Avenue Bourguiba.

The avenue was a key site for the Tunisian revolution a decade ago that brought down a dictatorial regime and unleashed the Arab Spring uprisings.

Police also deployed around the parliament, preventing demonstrators from accessing it.

Officers used tear gas to disperse some demonstrators throwing projectiles and made several arrests.

Clashes also took place in several other towns, notably in Nabeul, Sousse, Kairouan, Sfax and Tozeur.

Protesters also stormed the offices of the Islamist movement Ennahdha, the dominant force in parliament.

Videos circulating online showed smoke pouring out of the Ennahdha building. The attackers damaged computers and other equipment inside and threw documents on to the streets.

Tunisia has reimposed lockdowns and other virus restrictions because it is facing one of Africa’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.

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