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Presidential guard head held for Tunisia violence

Tunison authorities struggled to restore order Sunday,arresting the top presidential security chief and trying to stop gunfights that erupted across the capital.

Written by Associated Press | Tunisian |
January 17, 2011 3:28:21 am

Tunison authorities struggled to restore order Sunday,arresting the top presidential security chief and trying to stop gunfights that erupted across the capital. One clash broke out near Tunisia’s main opposition party building,another by the dreaded Interior Ministry.

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 and random violence since autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was driven from power Friday.

The police arrested the head of Ben Ali’s presidential guard,Ali Seriati,and several colleagues over accusations they had plotted against state security,state news agency TAP reported.

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 said.

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Tunisians are especially overjoyed at the prospect of life without Ben Ali’s wife and her family. US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks discussed high levels of corruption displayed by her clan.

Tunisian media reported one brother-in-law of the president,Imed Trabelsi,was attacked by an angry mob at Tunis airport and died from his injuries. The reports could not be confirmed.

Tunisians focused their attention on Gen Rachid Ammar,the country’s top military official,who is believed to have guided recent events. He is believed to have helped usher Ben Ali from the scene on Friday,and Arab news organisations have reported, that General Ammar helped trigger Ben Ali’s downfall last week by refusing orders to shoot demonstrators.

General Ammar remained out of sight Sunday,stirring speculation about his intentions and hope that he planned to hand over power to a new civilian government.

Tunisian government officials said Fouad Mebazaa,the new interim President,would meet with other party leaders about forming a unity government. Ben Ali and some family members fled to Saudi Arabia. Other relatives were in France.

A Paris-based photojournalist,Lucas Mebrouk von Zabiensky,32,of the EPA photo agency,died Sunday after being hit Friday in the face by a tear gas canister.

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