At least one person has been killed and several others injured in clashes between Tunisian security forces and street vendors in the country’s northern town of Bizerte.
According to a statement released by Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui on Tuesday, clashes erupted after the security forces tried to forcibly clear the hawkers' stalls in the coastal town. Reports say that the street vendors hurled stones at police. In response, security forces used tear gas to disperse the vendors. The victim, a 73-year-old man, lost his life after inhaling tear gas. Poverty is rampant across the North African country and unemployment rate stands at around 18 percent. Official figures show that nearly a quarter of the 11-million population lives below the poverty line. In March, a Tunisian man died in a hospital after setting himself ablaze to protest unemployment and poverty. In April, a jobless man set himself on fire in the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, where Tunisia's revolution started two years ago. The number of people committing suicide or trying to take their own lives has multiplied since a 26-year-old Tunisian street vendor named Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire on December 17, 2010 to protest the confiscation of his wares by a municipal official. Bouazizi's death sparked mass protests, which finally caused a popular revolution in Tunisia, leading to the ouster of the country’s Western-backed dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in January 2011.