News24

Tunisia riots calm down

2012-10-07 16:01

Tunis - A tense calm reigned on the Tunisian tourist island of Djerba on Sunday after clashes between police and residents protesting the re-opening of a rubbish dump in the south-west of the island left more than 50 people injured, local media reported.

The riots in the town of Guellala began when the police tried to disperse a sit-in by hundreds of residents on the road leading to the dump.

Interior Ministry spokesperson Khaled Tarrouche told local media that the protesters pelted police with stones and firebombs and that the police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Police spokesperson Mohamed Ali Aroui told Radio Mosaique that 49 officers were injured and six police cars torched. Two protesters were injured according to Shems FM radio.

Local media said residents in the town of around 13 000 people were angry after local authorities said they would reopen the dump until mid-2013 after previously promising it would remain closed.

Protests over public services, unemployment and the high cost of living regularly erupt in Tunisia, where many people feel frustrated at what they see as the slow pace of change since the ousting of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali nearly two years ago.

The country's year-old Islamist government has been trying to woo back tourists, a mainstay of the economy.

But many European tour operators are still treating Tunisia with caution in light of the ongoing insecurity.