Tunisian president declares state of emergency

January 14, 2011 19:25

Gunshots heard in capital following news that the government would be dismissed following protests and riots; 13 have been killed.

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Tunisian rioter stands in tear gas clouds

Tunisian rioter stands in tear gas clouds 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

TUNIS — Tunisia's official news agency Friday said Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has declared a state of emergency as riots escalated in his North African nation.

An AP Television News reporter heard gunfire in the center of the Tunisian capital late Friday, as well as the popping of tear gas pistols as police fired on protesters. Police have repeatedly fired on crowds during nearly a month of riots.

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Tunisia shuts down schools amid unrest

Tear gas was fired earlier Friday as protesters climbed atop the roof of the Interior Ministry.

The president announced earlier in the day that he would dismiss his government and call new legislative elections after thousands of protesters marched through the capital to demand his ouster.

Protesters have been fueled by pent-up anger at high unemployment and at a leadership many see as controlling and corrupt.

Tunisian medical officials say 13 people have died in new unrest in the North African nation.

International tour operators evacuated thousands of vacationers from Tunisia on Friday as the civil unrest intensified.

Thomas Cook said it was asking its roughly 3,800 British, Irish, and German customers in Tunisia to leave the country, while some 200 Dutch tourists were repatriated Thursday night via a chartered flight. U.S. and European governments have issued a series of travel alerts warning their citizens away from nonessential travel to Tunisia.

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