Army Tries to Quell Tunisia Poverty Riots
Witnesses report snipers shooting at protesters
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2011 1:50 PM CST
A soldier drives an armored vehicle through Ettadhamoun, west of Tunis, Wednesday Jan.12, 2011.   (AP Photo/Hedi Ben Salem)
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(Newser) – Tunisia’s army rolled through the streets of Tunis today, hoping to quell a string of sometimes violent protests over the country’s rampant poverty and unemployment. So far 21 people have been killed in the riots, which began three weeks ago when a young unemployed man set himself on fire. Today the army deployed armored vehicles, and police used tear gas to break up demonstrations. Some witnesses told the New York Times that snipers had been gunning down protesters.

“How can you fire on your own people?” demanded one 30-year-old business owner. “If you do that, then there is no return. Now, you are a killer.” Riot police have also used live ammunition to break up crowds in recent days. Protesters are believed to be organizing via social media sites, but the government is demanding those sites turn over users’ personal information and account data. The country’s interior minister has been fired over the crisis, and a nighttime curfew is in effect.