Tunisia arrests head of presidential guard, others

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 16, 2011 16:01

 
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TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisian police arrested the head of the presidential guard Sunday and dozens of others suspected in drive-by shootings, trying to restore calm to the North African nation after the historic ouster of its longtime strongman.

Tunisians and observers worldwide were looking for signs about which way the country would turn as a new leadership sought to tamp down the looting, arson attacks and random violence since autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was driven from power Friday.

Police arrested the head of Ben Ali's presidential guard, Ali Seriati, and several colleagues over accusations they had plotted against state security, the state news agency TAP reported Sunday. Other details were not immediately available, but security agents had often fired on unarmed protesters in the last month.

More than 50 people have been arrested since Saturday on suspicion of using ambulances, rental cars and civil protection vehicles for random shootings, a police official told The Associated Press. A crowd of 200 in central Tunis cheered Sunday as police drove away one ambulance and arrested its driver.

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