Demonstrators have shut a major oil pumping station in southern Tunisia, escalating weeks of protests for jobs and economic development in the deprived region.
Hundreds of protesters on Thursday forced their way into the remote El-Kamour production site, located in the desert south of the town of Tataouine despite the presence of army personnel protecting petroleum installations.
A hefty contingent of forces had been deployed to the site, including a helicopter, but there was no violence between security personnel and protesters who chanted “Tataouine does not give up” and sang the national anthem, according to AFP news agency.
The demonstration follows weeks of unrest in Tunisia’s south, one of the country’s most marginalised regions, burdened by above-average unemployment, failing infrastructure and an underdeveloped private sector.
Since July 9, a few dozen demonstrators have been camped in the desert near El Kamour. Other groups joined them on Thursday before the site was breached.
Protesters are calling on the government to implement a 2017 deal to create jobs in oil companies and infrastructure projects to reduce unemployment now running at 30 percent in the region, one of the highest rates in Tunisia.