Tensions flared up last night between police and citizens in the town of Kasserine, culminating in violent clashes that included molotov cocktails being thrown at police and cars set on fire.
According to police, protest marches grew violent after numerous citizens broke into the police station and attacked security agents. Eight have been arrested in connection with the incident and will face charges including vandalism and assault.
The riots took place in the small town of Khmouda, where in August a cement truck had veered out of control and crashed into a busy souk, killing 16 and injuring 85. Many of the victims suffered horrendous burns after an electricity pylon caught fire and ignited a further fire amidst the parked cars.
Wednesday night’s riots were largely a response to the lack of government assistance following the crash, police confirmed, despite official assurances of medical treatment, compensation, and reconstruction from the state.
“While some were compensated financially just after the crash, others are still waiting months after the tragedy,” said a police source in Kasserine.
Speaking about the issue to Tunisia Live earlier this month, Mustapha Jadli, a 21-year old resident whose father died in the accident asked,“Shouldn’t the state compensate us for what happened? Aren’t we citizens of this country as well?”
According to member of the League of Defense of Human Rights in Kasserine Sassi Boulak, the accident and its aftermath illustrate the degree to which Kasserine and other more impoverished areas of Tunisia have been neglected by the government.
“Under Ben Ali, there was no development and now there is still no development,” Boulak said to Tunisia Live.
Numerous government officials, including the Minister of Health, the Minister of Transport, and the Minister of Defence visited Kasserine following the accident, promising immediate measures to provide relief to those affected by the tragedy. But month later, concerns over road safety, infrastructure, and unemployment linger.
According to a report by the Global Road Safety Partnership, road accidents kill 1.500 people on average in Tunisia per year.
Rahma is preparing a master thesis in Anglo-American studies. She is interested in politics and foreign affairs. Since the outbreak of the Tunisian revolution, she volunteered for several Tunisian associations such as ATIDE, Sawty and others. She writes articles about post-revolution Tunisia.