January 26, 2021
File – Protesters parade along Avenue Habib Bourguiba in Tunis on January 24, 2011. [Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]
By The Associated Press
TUNIS, Tunisia – Clashes in Tunisia between groups of young people and police broke out Monday evening, following the death of a local man in his 20s who participated in last week’s protests. He is reportedly the first fatality of the demonstrations that swept the North African nation.
Angry residents fired projectiles at police and attempted to enter a security post in Sbeitla in the Kasserine region, after blocking the town’s main road by setting tires on fire, according to state news agency TAP.
Law enforcement responded with tear gas canisters to disperse the protesters, and a chase took place through city streets. TAP said that the army was deployed to calm unrest there and protect public buildings.
The family of the victim, Haykel Rachdi, claims he was shot in the head by a tear gas canister Wednesday and was transferred to Sousse hospital, where he died Monday. Some reports said that the victim died after sustaining injuries from falling from a ladder near the protests.
The death would represent the first fatality recorded since the outbreak of social unrest that rocked the country for a week and which resulted in around 1,200 arrests. More than 30% of those were minors protesting against unemployment and precarious living conditions in the country’s poorest regions.
The Interior Ministry said Monday that an investigation has been opened to determine the cause of Rachdi’s death.
The deputy public prosecutor of Kasserine told The Associated Press that investigators from Tunis will interview the doctor who had to treat the victim during his transfer to the hospital, as well as witnesses, pending a forensic autopsy report.