Tunisians wounded in Siliana clashes over unemployment

A Tunisian man shows a cartridge after he was injured during clashes with police in the town of Siliana on 28 November 2012
Image caption Reporters say Siliana's emergency services were overwhelmed with patients

More than 200 people have been wounded in a second day of clashes in the Tunisian town of Siliana, medical officials have said.

Security forces used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters demanding jobs, with reports of people also being treated for gunshot wounds.

Trade unions have called for further protests on Thursday.

Tunisia was the birthplace of the Arab Spring, deposing its long-time president in January 2011.

Hunger strike

During a brief television appearance on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali rejected protesters' calls for him to step down, saying: "This governor is not quitting."

The BBC's Sihem Hassaini in the capital, Tunis, says the unrest in Siliana is the latest in a series of protests by people disappointed by the lack of progress following the revolution.

Since the uprising which overthrew Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali unemployment has gone up - and according to official figures stands at about 18%.

Siliana residents went on strike on Tuesday, angered that the mayor had failed to create jobs.

All offices and businesses in Siliana, which is about 120km (75 miles) south of Tunis, remained closed on Wednesday, as protests continued.

According to AFP news agency, several armoured vehicles were deployed as demonstrators blocked roads with barricades and set tyres alight on Wednesday.

Trade unions have called for protests to continue on Thursday, it reports.

The protestors threw stones and thick clouds of tear gas could be seen over the town centre, our correspondent says.

Doctors at Siliana Hospital estimated the number of injured had risen to more than 200 by Wednesday evening.

Thirteen serious cases have been transferred to a hospital in Tunis, a medical source told the state-run Tap news agency.

David Thomson, a journalist for France24 news channel, tweeted from Siliana hospital where he was being treated for a shotgun wound. He said other patients had been admitted for more serious injuries.

Our reporter says the MP for Siliana, Iyed Dahmani, has begun a hunger strike, demanding more opportunities for his constituents.

Interior Minister Ali Larayed called for calm during a live television interview broadcast on Wednesday evening.

"I ask people in Siliana to calm down, to protest calmly and accept dialogue," he said.

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