from nytimes: The government of Tunisia scrambled alternately to appease and to crush growing unrest on Wednesday as a three-week-old wave of violent demonstrations spread for the first time to the capital, where swarms of protesters called for the ouster of the authoritarian president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. The protesters came together after circulating calls to rally over online networks like Facebook and twitter.com. Many were unemployed college graduates, and they angrily demanded more jobs and denounced what they called the self-enrichment of Tunisia’s ruling family. Army units and riot police were deployed around the city around dawn in anticipation, and they quickly dispersed protesters with billy clubs, tear gas, and bullets. By late in the day the government decreed a night-time curfew. And there were reports that some relatives of the president were leaving the country for their own safety.
At one of several demonstrations, witnesses reported that the security forces had shot and killed four protesters. Some said the army had used rooftop snipers to fire on the crowd. Rights groups said they had confirmed more than 30 deaths before the day began, all in skirmishes with police over the last several days. “How can you fire on your own people?” said a 30-year-old business owner taking refuge from police as they broke up a protest near the French Embassy and train station downtown. “If you do that, then there is no return. Now you are a killer.” He declined to provide his name for fear of reprisals.
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