Scuffles as Tunisia protesters wave yellow cards at government

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One person has died and more than 200 people have been arrested in two nights of widespread and violent protests across Tunisia, driven by anger over steep price rises resulting from austerity measures.

"Waving yellow cards - an echo of the "warning" card" flashed by soccer referees - protesters marching on administrative offices in the capital, Tunis, on Friday demanded the government reverse austerity measures implemented at the start of the year.

The UN says it is concerned about the number of arrests during anti-government protests in Tunisia.

According to the Interior Ministry, more than 700 people have so far been detained for clashing with police and inciting "riots".

Almost a week of sometimes violent protests across the country followed the announcement of austerity measures in this year's budget, which took effect on January 1.

Warda Atig is one of the founders and spokespeople for the Fech Netannew - What Are We Waiting For? - campaign, which had organised Friday's protests. Sixteen "Islamist extremists" were among those detained, he said.

The opposition bloc, mainly the Popular Front, denied such accusations, pointing out that the current government is "reproducing the old regime's methods".

"The people want the Finance Act repealed" and "The people are fed up with the new Trabelsi", they shouted, referring to the corruption-tainted in-laws of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Tunisia's army has deployed 2,100 troops in different parts of the country, with the stated aim of protecting "sovereign institutions and vital facilities", defence ministry spokesman Belhassen al-Waslati said on Thursday.

The 2018 budget also raises customs taxes on some imports, and the Tunis government is trying to cut the public sector wage bill through voluntary redundancies.

Tunisia's economy has struggled since the revolution, with growth remaining slow.

Tunisia is considered a rare success story of the Arab Spring uprisings that began in the North African country in 2011 and spread across the region, toppling autocrats.

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