One Killed as Protests against Rising Prices Build up in Tunisia

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Khalifa Chibani, spokesman for Tunisia's interior ministry, told Tunisia's TAP news agency that at least 58 members of the security forces have been injured and 57 police vehicles damaged, according to The Associated Press.

Tunisian authorities said Friday the number of people detained in the wave of violent protests had risen to almost 800, after a provincial town was hit by a night of unrest over the austerity measures.

On Monday, a week after the new budget took effect, protests erupted in more than 10 towns across the country. The police insisted they did not kill him, and said he suffered from "respiratory problems".

But Tunisians have expressed frustration since the start of the year over austerity measures expected to further increase prices in a struggling economy.

"People have to understand that the situation is extraordinary and their country has difficulties but we believe that 2018 will be the last hard year for the Tunisians", Chahed told reporters in comments broadcast on local radio.

In this, as in the austerity measures and social inequality that sparked the protest movement, there are powerful echoes in the upheavals in Tunisia of the mass protests that recently swept Iran. "Yesterday protesters burned down two police stations, they looted shops, banks and damaged property in many cities", Interior Ministry spokesman Chibani said.

"Tunisian security forces must refrain from using excessive force and end their use of intimidation tactics against peaceful demonstrators", the rights group said.

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The protests late Wednesday in multiple towns appeared somewhat less violent than previous nights, as heavy security was deployed at key sites to deter rioters.

The uprising began in December 2010 after street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire and later died in a protest over unemployment and police harassment.

The country has been hailed for its relatively smooth democratic transition but seven years after the revolution tensions over economic grievances are high.

Authorities promised the International Monetary Fund (IMF) they would cut spending in exchange for a $2.9 billion (U.S.) loan that year.

On Tuesday, suspected Islamists threw petrol bombs at a Jewish school on the tourist island of Djerba.

Meanwhile, similar protests have broken out in the African nation of Sudan against the autocratic regime of Omar al-Bashir, which announced sharp price increases for flour, resulting in a doubling of the price of bread overnight.