Four people have died in new unrest in the Tunisian capital between stone-throwing protesters and police on the sidelines of demonstrations against the interim government, officials said on Saturday.
The Interior Ministry, in a statement, blamed “provocateurs” for fomenting violence in otherwise peaceful rallies and for allegedly using young people as human shields in renewed demonstrations.
The ministry said three people died Saturday, without elaborating. State TV showed a funeral of a 19-year-old man who was killed on Friday after being shot through the neck during protests on a central avenue.
Demonstrators fear the interim government has hijacked the revolution that drove Tunisia’s longtime autocrat from power on Jan. 14, sending shock waves through the Arab world.
Officials said nearly 200 people were arrested in the last two days.
On Saturday, police and troops backed by tanks used tear gas to disperse hundreds of youths protesting against the caretaker government. Officers were seen chasing some youths through town after the rally ended.
Authorities then ordered a temporarily ban on vehicle and pedestrian traffic on the capital’s central Bourguiba Avenue until midnight Sunday — the first of its kind since Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia.
On Friday, police fired tear gas and warning shots as violence erupted alongside a sit-in that drew tens of thousands of protesters near the seat of the interim government.
Many Tunisians remain angry at the interim government led by Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, a longtime Ben Ali lieutenant who has pledged to guide the country until elections can be held this summer.