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Tunisian leader resigns amid new clashes



Mohammed Ghannouchi

TUNIS: Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi resigned on Sunday, as security forces clashed with protesters in Tunis demanding the removal of some Ministers of his interim government.

Police fired tear gas and warning shots to disperse stone-throwing youths on a third day of violence.

Demonstrators were demanding the removal of members of the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, whose toppling on January 14 after weeks of protests sparked similar uprising across the Arab world.

The Interior Ministry said the three who died on Saturday were among a dozen wounded, with several members of the security forces also hurt in the clashes.

More than 100 people were arrested for involvement in the unrest on Saturday and 88 people after a demonstration on Friday, it said, blaming the violence on “agitators” it said had infiltrated peaceful demonstrators.

The Ministry also said that these agitators had used young high school students as “human shields to commit acts of violence, arson to spread terror among the population and targeting the security forces.”

In the biggest of several rallies against the transitional authority, about 1,00,000 protesters marched down the capital's main avenue on Friday shouting slogans, including against Mr. Ghannouchi who was in Ben Ali's government.

Clashes left 21 police officers injured and three police stations damaged, the Interior Ministry said.

In response to the growing protests, the interim government announced on Friday that it would hold elections by mid-July. — AFP

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