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Clashes Reported In Tunisia Capital


Tunisian security forces fired tear gas today to disperse hundreds of protesters in the center of the capital, Tunis.

There was no word on casualties or arrests of demonstrators.

Meanwhile, reports say police opened fire on demonstrators in southern Tunisia, killing two people.

Earlier today, President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali said he had fired the country's interior minister over the wave of violent protests.

The protests fueled by anger over unemployment and corruption were the biggest challenge to Abidine's 23-year rule.

Officials say 23 people were killed when police fired at protesters. Unions and witnesses say the death toll was at least 50.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today urged the Tunisian government to stop using excessive force against demonstrators, and called for transparent investigations into protesters' deaths.

The protests began nearly a month ago in provincial towns but on January 11 spread to the capital for the first time.

compiled from agency reports