Tunisian protesters call for release of detained protesters

President Beji Caid el Sebsi is under pressure

Tunisian authorities said Friday the number of people detained in the wave of violent protests had risen to almost 800, after a provincial town was hit by a night of unrest over the austerity measures.

Protests broke out in more than 10 towns against price and tax increases put in place by the government in an attempt to stabilize Tunisia's economic crisis. Witnesses told the news media they believed the man had been struck by a security vehicle, but the Interior Ministry said in a statement that he had had chronic shortness of breath and that his body showed no signs of violence or of having been run over. The International Monetary Funds says Tunisia is committed to "decisive action" to reform its economy before the IMF reviews the payment of its next loan tranche.

It's just a few days before the 7th anniversary of the popular uprisings from December 2010 to January 2011, which resulted in the downfall of former President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali on Jan. 14, 2011.

Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed warned that any offense of law will be punished, calling for calm in the treatment of social movements.

This security forces' behavior is a key factor in Tunisia's success in preventing the demonstrations from degenerating into violent protest.

But the country remains plagued by high unemployment and economic woes that nine governments since the revolution have been unable to address.

Petrol bombs thrown at a Jewish school and synagogue on the tourist resort island of Djerba caused some damage but no injuries, the head of the local Jewish community, Perez Trabelsi, told Reuters. He didn't give estimates of the number of protesters that were hurt.

The protests began peacefully last week, but escalated on Monday evening. In Geneina, the capital of West Darfour, one student died under unclear circumstances when the security forces intervened to disperse a protest, and at least five other demonstrators were wounded.

Unrest was also reported in the southern city of Gafsa, in Kasserine in central Tunisia and in Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of the protests that sparked the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

The protests draw on anger over price and tax increases included in this year's budget that took effect on 1 January.

Global lenders extended a crucial $2.8bn (£2.1bn) loan to Tunisia previous year, but have demanded cuts to the civil service and a broader austerity programme.

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