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Tunisia Heating Up: 14-Yr-Old Killed in Protest

A young teen was killed in the wee hours of Monday morning in a violent demonstration in Tunisia, and two other protesters were seriously wounded.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 7/18/2011, 6:54 PM / Last Update: 7/18/2011, 10:03 PM

A young teen was killed in the wee hours of Monday morning in a violent demonstration in Tunisia, and two other protesters were seriously wounded.

The 14-year-old boy died when “a stray bullet” struck him during a protest held in Sidi Bouzid, according to Tunisia's official TAP news agency, who quoted district security chief Samir Melliti.

The protests apparently began late Sunday night, when youths began massing to express their discontent with continued unemployment and economic problems.  Earlier in the day, a police station was set afire by protesters in a western suburb of Tunis, the capital.

Protesters hurled firebombs and rocks at security forces while police and military personnel responded by firing warning shots with live ammunition. The demonstrators also torched a car to block the main road, and smashed storefronts in the town.

Nine arrests were made, including four demonstrators and five others in raids that followed the violence, which lasted until dawn.

It was in Sidi Bouzid where the first grassroots uprising ignited a revolution that has since swept the entire Arab world. The “Jasmine Revolution” began in January after a 26-year-old fruit vendor set himself on fire when his merchandise was confiscated by authorities, leaving him with no way left to eke out a living. Massive protests led to the ouster of longtime dictator President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia.

Unrest in the country has continued since that time, despite efforts by the transitional government to stabilize the situation. A hoped-for national election this month was put off until October, and it is not clear whether the polls will be held on time, or be postponed again.