Deaths in northern Tunisia clashes

At least two dead after police reportedly open fire on protesters in the town of El Kef.

    Protest numbers have dwindled in the capital, in stark contrast to events three weeks that led to an uprising [AFP]

    At least two people have been killed and several injured in clashes with police in northern Tunisia, officials have said.

    Al Jazeera sources said police fired on protesters outside a police station in the northern town of El Kef on Saturday.

    The clashes were said to have been sparked after a police officer attacked a woman who had come to file a complaint.

    According to local union members, the deaths came as about 300 demonstrators demanded the departure of a local police chief.

    They also told the AFP news agency that protesters set the police station on fire and clashed with police who then opened fire.

    Meanwhile, Tunisian authorities arrested two policemen over suspected links to the death of two people after a police station they were locked in caught fire in the town of Sidi Bouzid on Friday.

    It was in Sidi Bouzid that a young man, Mohamed Bouazizi, died after setting himself on fire on December 17, triggering the uprising that ousted former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

    The two victims had been arrested on alcohol related charges.

    Trade union rally

    Separately on Saturday, dozens of members of Tunisia's main trade union rallied in Tunis demanding a shakeup of its hierarchy.

    "Get lost rotten managers!" members of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) chanted in front of the union's Tunis headquarters, calling on its secretary general Abdessalem Jrad to step down.

    "We ousted Ben Ali, the time has come to settle accounts with the UGTT's bureaucratic management which flirts with the transitional government and betrays its base," said Habib Ayadi, a union member.

    'Normality'

    But in a sign the country was getting back to business, Tunisia's transitional government announced a two-hour shortening of the curfew, which now begins at midnight and ends at 4am (0300GMT).

    Only a few dozen young people still stage peaceful rallies against the former ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party on the city's central Habib Bourguiba artery, scene of massive anti-government protests three weeks ago.

    At one end, a few armoured vehicles belonging to the army are parked in front of the interior ministry.

    But the machine guns once stationed there are absent.

    In another sign of returning normality, Britain lifted its travel warning on Tunisia on Friday.

    But Tunisia's interim government remains on alert, after reporting a mob attack on the interior ministry Monday in what minister Farhat Rajhi described as a "a plot against the state".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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