Protests erupt in Tunisian cities, amid anger over difficult economic situation

TUNIS (Reuters) - Violent protests broke out on Saturday night in at least six Tunisian cities, including the capital Tunis and the coastal city of Sousse, witnesses and local media said, as anger mounts over economic hardship.

The demonstrations come as Tunisia marks the tenth anniversary of the revolution that toppled the late President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab Spring uprisings.

The protests pose a challenge for the government of Hicham Mechichi, who reshuffled the cabinet, with new ministers including the Ministry of Interior, Justice and Energy.

Witnesses in Sousse said that security forces fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of anger protesters who blocked roads and burned tires.

Security sources said that young men in Sousse broke into shops. Clashes took place in the city Kalaa Kebira near Sousse.

A decade after the revolution against widespread unemployment, poverty, corruption and injustice, Tunisia made a smooth road towards democracy, but its economic situation worsened, with poor public services and the country became on the verge of bankruptcy.

Violent protests also took place in several areas of the capital, including Ettadamen, Mallassin and Fouchana and Sijoumi.

There were also night protests and riots in Kef, Bizerte and Siliana, in the north of the country.

Reporting by Tarek Amara, editing by Louise Heavens