197 arrested after Tunisia protests

2011-05-11 07:45

Tunis - Tunisian authorities have arrested nearly 200 people after a series of anti-government protests that culminated in a street battle at the weekend in the capital, the state TAP new agency reported on Tuesday.

Security officials and the army made the arrests in raids on Monday and Tuesday across the North African country where tensions remain high after the ousting in January of autocratic leader Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

The 197 were charged with various crimes including attacking police with stones, breaking a recently imposed curfew, theft and vandalism, TAP said, quoting the Interior Ministry.

Riot police used tear gas on Sunday to break up a fourth day of protests by scores of youths demanding the departure of the government and Prime Minister Beji Caid Sebsi.

The spark for the protests was a warning from a former interior minister that there would be a coup d'etat if the Islamist group Ennahda won a planned July election.

The protesters say they fear the interim administration will renege on its commitment to guide Tunisia towards democracy after the decades of autocratic rule under Ben Ali.

The streets have been calm since Monday, with only small, peaceful protests by groups of workers.

The popular revolution in Tunisia has inspired uprisings across the Arab world.