2 killed as Tunisia protest turns violent

2012-09-14 22:15

Tunis - Two people were killed on Friday and dozens injured in clashes at the US embassy in Tunis, where protests over an anti-Islam film degenerated into violence that left smoke billowing from the sprawling compound.

Tunisian police fired live rounds and tear gas to drive away the angry protesters, some of whom had thrown petrol bombs and stormed the embassy, in a suburb of the capital, an AFP journalist reported.

Thick black smoke rose into the sky as the protesters, most of whom appeared to be radical Salafist Muslim, also ransacked and set fire to an American school nearby.

By 17:00 GMT calm had returned, with security forces patrolling the area around the mission. Armoured vehicles drove through the surrounding streets that were littered with debris.

A spokesman for the health ministry told AFP that two people were killed during the clashes and another 29 wounded, adding that it was a provisional death toll and that the number could rise.

Earlier, the ministry said three people had been killed and 28 wounded.

The spokesperson gave no details of the dead, saying only that "police and protesters were among the injured", two of whom were in a critical condition.

Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, from the ruling Islamist party Ennahda, said he was "deeply troubled" by the attack on the embassy, according to the official TAP news agency, and cut short a two day break to return to Tunis.

The government appealed for calm, calling on "all citizens to respect the law and to express their positions peacefully when confronted with attacks on the sacred symbols and offenses against the prophet", TAP reported.

It also condemned the attack, saying those responsible would be brought to trial.

Tunisian imams and hardline Salafists had called Friday's protest outside the embassy to denounce a film mocking Islam posted on the internet that has sparked anti-US protests across the Islamic world.

The amateur American-made video called Innocence of Muslims in which actors have strong American accents, portrays Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent.


More than 1 000 stone-throwing protesters had gathered outside the US embassy, shouting anti-US slogans including: "Obama! Obama! We are all Osama!" in reference to the slain al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden.

They also waved the black Islamist flag and hurled insults at police, accusing them of "protecting" those who denigrate Islam. The police responded with firing tear gas and warning shots, as they tried to disperse the crowd.

But the demonstrators, acting aggressively, managed to clamber over one of the walls round the mission, near the car park where several vehicles had been set ablaze, an AFP photographer reported.

Petrol bombs, thought to have started the blaze, were thrown at a separate part of the embassy, causing another fire there.

And some of the protesters ransacked and torched an American school located just a few dozen metres from the embassy, TAP reported.

The police, backed by reinforcements from the army and the national guard, took nearly three hours to bring the situation under control, as they clashed repeatedly with the activists.

Security had been boosted around the US embassy in anticipation of violent protests, with a heavy deployment of riot police, soldiers and extra barbed wire, and checkpoints on nearby roads.

Some 300 Salafists had demonstrated there on Wednesday, and tried to break through the gates of the compound before being scattered by police firing tear gas.

The film behind the unrest, which also pokes fun at the Prophet Mohammed and touches on themes of paedophilia and homosexuality, also caused deadly violence in Sudan, Lebanon, and Yemen on Friday.

Earlier in the week US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in neighbouring Libya, reportedly by a mob angered by the film.

Tunisia, where a mass uprising toppled former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January last year and touched off the Arab Spring, has since witnessed numerous violent incidents linked to Islamist hardliners.

The opposition has strongly criticised the Islamist-led government for not doing enough to rein them in.

  • pisciotta - 2012-09-14 23:55

    Don't these Muslim Motha-F's have jobs they should be working? They can spend all their day protesting and destroying while wearing NIKE shoes, Michael Jackson T-shirts and Baseball caps? America should pull out of every country and let the world starve by its own ignorance. Don't like America? Stop trying to be like us. And stop using anything that comes out of America - like the Internet, Telephone, TV etc. etc. etc. etc.

      hussein.diedericks - 2012-09-15 00:01

      We will protest till the day we die ur stupid tart!!!!

      imraan.chothia.7 - 2012-09-15 09:07

      PJP Maybe funnier if the commedian named the puppet Jesus???

      pisciotta - 2012-09-15 16:11

      Imraan - perhaps but that wouldn't fit the behavior of a suicide bomber now would it? Either way I'm not offended if that is what you were shooting for (could not help the pun) Now go make MO proud of you and sleep with a 9 year old (do I need to specify "girl"?). But first make sure she is a virgin. What was good for MO should certainly be good for you. Right?

  • maryam.leder - 2012-09-15 01:49

    I just cannot understand what the fuss is all about. We Muslims all know that Muhammad (PBUH) was 53 years old when he had conjugal relations with 9 year old Aishah. This is all in the noble Qur'an. There is nothing that is that offensive in the movie. So why the bloodshed. Have we Muslims come down to the level of animals. we arenow the laughing stock of the non-Muslin world.

      pisciotta - 2012-09-15 14:58

      Maryam - we think we may know but in reality no one knows what really happened to Moses, Jesus, MO, Joseph Smith...pick any religious leader. We weren't there and if we had been we'd all have a different version of "reality". If there is one thing we humans do good it is redact history to fit our wishes. As for the movie the only offense is that is is so poorly made. A 1st grade school performance would be better. And I hear it was an Egyptian Coptic who made the film. Not a Jew as was first thought. If there is one thing Jews know how to do it is making a good movie.

      pisciotta - 2012-09-16 03:37

      Maryam so you are saying that your "prophet" at the age of 53 had sex with a 9 year old girl. Correct? And you fear the non-muslim world thinks of your kind as animals? Are you really that delayed? If what you say about your "prophet" is true and accepted by the followers of Islam, then Islam is not a "laughing stock" but a threat to human decency. There is nothing funny about pedophilia. If pedophilia is accepted in Islam then Islam needs to be brought to justice.

  • hermann.hanekom - 2012-09-15 06:12

    The protesters surely give credence to what the film claims - Muslims are violent.

      pisciotta - 2012-09-15 14:30

      I find it interesting that it is only the poor Muslim countries that seem to be performing. Qatar for example has not seen protests (or I have read about it). Seems if you keep people busy at work they are able to put things into perspective. When they are out of work and starving they have time and interest to look for a reason to bitch. Oh well, let them drink their oil. Strange religion. Strange people. Muslims in western countries should just go home if they can't stand liberty.

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