Tunisian government says economic struggles will end amidst tax protests

He added that clashes between the security forces and the protesters have led to the injury of 49 members of the security forces, nine in the ranks of the National Guard, and damaged 45 security vehicles belonging to the police units, and 12 cars belonging to the National Guard.

"The protests have declined and there was no damage, but last night the police arrested 150 people involved in rioting in the past few days, bringing the total number of detainees to 778", Interior Ministry spokesman Khelifa Chibani said.

The Tunisian government is raising fuel prices and taxes on many products and services to reduce the country's annual deficit.

He said clashes between youths and police were limited and "not serious", and insisted no acts of violence, theft or looting were reported on Thursday evening. The 2011 Arab Spring uprising and two Islamist attacks in 2015 have stymied foreign investment and tourism, which accounts for eight percent of Tunisia's economy.

Prime Minister Yousef Chahed has said the riots have descended into "acts of vandalism", he added: "What happened is violence that we can not accept".

Tunisia, widely seen in the West as the only democratic success among nations where "Arab Spring" revolts took place in 2011, is suffering increasing economic hardship.

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. The army was deployed into towns across the country to protect government buildings, which have become targets.

Fresh scuffles broke out Friday as hundreds of Tunisians took to the streets of the capital and coastal city of Sfax, waving yellow cards and demanding the government reverse austerity measures.

The protests quickly turned into clashes at the start of the week with some protesters attacking the Jewish school island of Djerba. He did not give estimates of the number of injured protesters. "The state will remain steadfast", Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said in a video broadcast by local radio.

"Prices of medicine have increased".

Last year, the Washington-based International Monetary Fund agreed a four-year loan programme worth about $2.8 billion with Tunisia, tied to economic reforms.

The revolution in Tunisia began in the town in December 2010 after street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire and later died in a protest over unemployment and police harassment that spiralled into Ben Ali's overthrow.

  • Kyle Peterson