Tunisian authorities arrested on Friday another 150 people including local opposition leaders over unrest against price and tax rises.
Protests, some violent, flared across Tunisia on Monday, when one protester was killed, before ebbing on Thursday. Protesters have burned dozens of state buildings, prompting the government to send the army into several cities and towns.
Activists and opposition politicians appealed for fresh demonstrations in the capital, Tunis, on Friday and on Sunday, the seventh anniversary of the toppling of authoritarian president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.
On Thursday, unrest was limited to sporadic clashes in the northern city of Siliana, in Sidi Bouzid in central Tunisia and Douz in the south of the North African country.
“The protests have declined and there was no damage, but last night the police arrested 150 people involved in rioting in the past few days, bringing the total number of detainees to 778,” Interior Ministry spokesman Khelifa Chibani said. Sixteen “Islamist extremists” were among those detained, he said.
Three local leaders of the Popular Front, the main opposition bloc, were detained in Gafsa for allegedly setting fire to a government building, a judicial source said.
Reuters says, the Popular Front said its leaders had been targeted in a political campaign that was “reproducing the methods of the oppressive Ben Ali regime”. Party members had also been arrested in Mahdia and Karbariya, it said.