Tunisia police use tear gas to disperse protest

TUNIS – Tunisian security forces used tear gas and truncheons on Monday to disperse a crowd of protesters in the capital demanding that the government step down.

Several hundred protesters tried to assemble in front of the Interior Ministry headquarters, on the central Bourguiba Avenue, said a Reuters reporter who was at the scene.

Police, who were gathered in large numbers in front of the interior ministry, fired tear gas canisters and hit some of the protesters with truncheons, forcing them to scatter.

Tunisia electrified the Middle East in January when mass protests forced longstanding leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia. Tunisia's revolution became the template for the "Arab Spring" uprisings sweeping the region.

However, the caretaker authorities now running the North African country have struggled to restore stability with protests and strikes breaking out regularly.

Some groups involved in forcing out Ben Ali say he and his supporters should have been prosecuted more vigorously and they suspect some in government of sympathizing with the ousted administration.

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