Tunisian president criticizes rioters, urges calm

December 29, 2010 01:06

TUNIS, Tunisia  — Tunisia's president warned Tuesday that rioters will be firmly punished after unusually violent demonstrations over unemployment. At least two protesters have died, one shot by police.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali promised new measures to create jobs and sought to restore calm to a Mediterranean nation that is popular among European tourists, accusing rioters of hurting Tunisia's image.Ben Ali's government tolerates little public dissent and has been caught off guard by days of discontent. A US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks calls Tunisia a "police state" and "troubled" and said Ben Ali has lost touch with his people after 23 years in power.

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