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Tunisian protester 'accidentally' killed by national guard

El Kamour protests [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 May, 2017

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The health ministry said 50 others were hospitalised after suffering from broken bones or the effects of tear gas during clashes with security forces in El-Kamour and Tataouine

A young protester was killed on Monday after a national guard vehicle "accidentally" ran him over in south Tunisia, raising fears of more unrest following weeks of protest.

The came after rising tensions between protesters and security forces outside the El-Kamour oil and gas pumping station in Tunisia's desert region.

The scenes of clashes between protesters and security forces have brought back memories of late 2010, when civil unrest led to revolution and the beginning of the Arab Spring.

Rising tensions

Two days ago, soldiers fired warning shots in El-Kamour to deter protesters with angry demonstrations spilling into civil unrest.

Interior Ministry Spokesman Yasser Mesbah said later on Monday that the man was hit by a national guard vehicle as it was reversing and died in hospital.

Protesters have been camping outside the desert installation in the Tataouine region for around a month, blocking trucks from entering, with locals demanding a share of the resources and priority for jobs in the sector.

According to local Tunisian radio, security forces fired tear gas at protestors in El-Kamour on Monday after they had tried to storm the facility.

Defence Ministry Spokesman Belhassen Oueslati said the protesters "used trucks to run down" barricades erected outside the installation.

The health ministry said 50 others were hospitalised after suffering from broken bones or the effects of tear gas during clashes with security forces both in El-Kamour and Tataouine.

Mesbah said 13 policemen, six national guardsmen and a member of the civil protection unit were also wounded, with the latter in intensive care.

Warning to protestors

Late Sunday, the defence ministry issued a statement warning that the army would use force against anyone who tried to enter these installations.

"All citizens of legal proceedings in the case of clashes with military or security units" and of possible casualties in "the case of a gradual escalation of use of force" it read.

"One must understand that attempting to enter by force an installation protected by the army... is not a peaceful act... It requires a reaction," Oueslati told Express FM radio earlier Monday.

While the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Ennahdha party urged calm, it remained adamant that the people's demands are "legitimate".

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed travelled to the region last month in an attempt to address concerns but was shouted down and forced to leave a heated town hall meeting. 

Dozens of protesters interrupted his speech with cries of "Work! Freedom! National Dignity!"

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