Tunisian jobs protests reach capital Tunis

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Tunisians demonstrate in Tunis to show solidarity with the residents of Sidi Bouzid
Image caption,
Economic discontent has provoked Tunisia's most violent unrest in more than a decade

Scuffles have broken out in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, between police and protesters angry at high unemployment levels.

Some 1,000 protesters, mainly unemployed graduates, rallied outside the offices of the main workers' union.

On Friday, one protester was shot dead during violent clashes in the central Tunisian town of Menzel Bouzaiene.

Tensions have been high since the attempted suicide earlier this month of a jobless graduate.

Twenty-six year old Mohammed Bouazizi sold fruit and vegetables illegally in Sidi Bouzid because he could not find a job.

According to the Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights, he doused himself in petrol and set himself alight earlier this month when police confiscated his produce, telling him he did not have the necessary permit.

Demonstrations followed and tensions heightened when another young man electrocuted himself in the same town, saying he was fed up with being unemployed.

In Tunis on Monday, Sami Tahr, head of the union for high school teachers said the demonstrators sought radical solutions to the country's problems.

"We're gathered today in solidarity with the population of Sidi Bouzid and to salute the memories of the martyrs of repression who seek only their right to work," AP reported him as saying.

The government said the violence was isolated and had been exploited by the opposition. However, the country's development minister has travelled to the region and pledged to invest in an employment programme.

Public protests in Tunisia - where the government is often criticised for its human rights record - are rare and political dissent is repressed, correspondents say. But recent economic discontent has provoked the most violent unrest in more than a decade.