More than 300 protesters have been arrested and the army deployed in several Tunisian cities after violent demonstrations over prices, taxes and unemployment swept the country.
In Thala, near the Algerian border, troops were sent in after protesters burned down the national security building, forcing police to retreat from the town, witnesses said.
Violent anti-government protests have raged in other towns since Monday, including the tourist resort of Sousse, against price and tax rises imposed to cut a ballooning deficit and satisfy international lenders.
While Tunisia is widely seen as the only democratic success story among Arab spring states, it has had nine governments since the overthrow of the authoritarian leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, none of which have resolved the growing economic problems.
“Some 330 people involved in acts of sabotage and robbery were arrested last night,” said the interior ministry spokesman, Khelifa Chibani, bringing the number of detainees since the protests began to about 600.
The army was also deployed in several other cities, including Sousse, Kebeli and Bizert to protect government buildings that have become a target for protesters.
Uprisings in 2011 and two militant attacks in 2015 damaged foreign investment and tourism, which accounts for 8% of Tunisia’s economic activity.
The prime minister, Youssef Chahed, on Wednesday accused the opposition of fuelling dissent by calling for more protests.
On Tuesday, petrol bombs were thrown at a Jewish school on the southern tourist island of Djerba, home to an ancient Jewish community.
This story originally appeared in The Guardian. Image courtesy of Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images.