April 11, 2008 / 1:49 AM / 12 years ago

Clashes in Tunisia town over price rises - sources

TUNIS, April 10 (Reuters) - Stone-throwing demonstrators protesting against rising living costs and unemployment have clashed with police in Tunisia’s central town of Redeyef over the past three days, trade union sources said on Thursday.

Violent protests are rare in the North African country of 10 million where the government of President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali, who has been in power since 1987, shows little tolerance of dissent.

Police arrested more than 20 people over the violence in Redeyef, situated in the phosphate mining region of Gasfa, but subsequently freed a number, said the sources, who declined to be identified.

An official source, who also declined to be named, said eight people had been charged with public disorder and damaging property.

No comment was immediately available from the government.

Tunisia has North Africa’s biggest middle class but after years of improving living standards the rising prices of imported commodities are making people feel poorer.

In February, food inflation in Tunisia stood at 8.6 percent. (Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Tom Pfeiffer, Editing by Ralph Gowling)

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