March 17, 2020 / 5:51 PM / in 16 days

Tunisian police break up ram fight that broke coronavirus crowd rules

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian police used tear gas to disperse dozens of youths at a traditional ram fight on Tuesday because it broke coronavirus rules against crowds, the local Mosaique FM radio reported.

Ram fighting is a popular pastime in North Africa and the strongest animals with the most beautiful horns are highly prized for the powerful butts they deliver to opponents.

Tunisia has so far confirmed 24 cases of the coronavirus, but has instituted tough measures to halt its spread by stopping foreign travel, closing schools, mosques, markets and bars, and limiting cafe opening hours to mornings.

It has also barred large gatherings of people and the attendance of 40 young men to watch the ram fight at Sousse on Tuesday prompted the police to step in. That led to a confrontation and the police used tear gas.

Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh said on Monday in a televised address that if people did not respect the state’s coronavirus instructions, thousands of people could end up being infected.

Sousse, located on the Mediterranean coast south of the capital Tunis, is a pretty resort town dependent on the tourist trade, which the coronavirus looks likely to devastate this year.

A security source was not immediately available to comment.

Reporting By Tarek Amara, writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Gareth Jones

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