Tunis in turmoil as death toll spirals in Tunisia (Roundup)
Jan 13, 2011, 18:22 GMT
Paris/Berlin - Two more demonstrators were shot dead in Tunisia's capital Tunis on Thursday and an American photographer was injured as a month-old popular uprising, in which police have killed dozens of protestors, raged on.
The two victims were among hundreds of demonstrators protesting the use by the police of lethal force to subdue riots across the country over the past week, local sources and French media reported.
One of the victims was shot in the chest, sources said. Some reports said the shots came from police snipers stationed on rooftops.
The photographer was shot in the leg while covering a demonstration near the public radio building.
Television images from Tunis showed young men fleeing tear gas volleys past burnt-out vehicles, smashed windows and blackened facades. In the town of Sidi Bouzid, where the unrest began on December 17 and where a general strike has been called, thousands of people marched to demand that President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the country's leader of 23 years, step down.
Thursday's deaths bring to more than 60, by some counts, the number of people killed in the riots that began in the centre of the country over unemployment and have since spread north, east and south.
Since Wednesday alone, at least 12 people were reported killed in Tunis, in the south-eastern city of Douz, and Degueche, in the west. All appear to have been shot.
The dead include a woman with dual Swiss-Tunisian citizenship, who was shot in the neck in Dar Shaaban, northern Tunisia, while observing the demonstrations from a balcony, and a university professor who had dual French-Tunisian citizenship.
'This disproportionate use of violence can't continue,' France's Prime Minister Francois Fillon said, in the first direct criticism by Tunisia's former colonial power of the excessive force used against civilians.
Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he was 'deeply worried'.
'We condemn every form of violence,' he said, adding Germany would be summoning the Tunisian ambassador over the situation.
In a blow to Tunisia's important tourist trade, Germany also advised travellers against heading to the north African state.
The Paris-based Federation Internationale des Droits de L'Homme (International Federation for Human Rights) said Thursday it had counted 66 dead since December 17, when the public suicide of a jobless young man in Sidi Bouzid unleashed the wave of discontent.
The Tunisian government has not yet updated its count of 21 dead from the beginning of the week.
Ben Ali on Wednesday has attempted to pacify the protestors by announcing the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs and vowing to tackle corruption and investigate the police shootings.
But the measures have been widely dismissed in Tunisia as too little, too late.
Speaking on French television Wednesday evening Tunisian author Hele Beji compared the events in Tunisia to the French student revolt of May 1968.
'There has been a collective stock-taking,' she said, describing the uprising as a strike for 'popular sovereignty.'
Read more about Tunisia Conflict