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Tunisian enquiry says 338 deaths during anti-regime uprising

Demonstrators clash with Tunisian security force members in December 2010 in Tunis (© 2009 AFP)

More than 330 Tunisians were killed and 2,174 were injured during the popular uprising that led to the fall of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, according to an official tally released Friday.

The count was released by a special commission investigating abuses committed after protests began on December 17, 2010, when a vegetable seller named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself ablaze over ill-treatment by police.

The commission counted 338 people killed in the ensuing demonstrations, though the numbers were not definitive, said lawyer Taoufik Bouderbala, who presented the findings to the press.

The commission has since February 2011 reviewed 2,489 cases. Investigators found 66 percent of those killed had been shot. Police were responsible for 79 percent of the deaths and 96 percent of the injury cases.

Among the dead were 14 police officers, five troops and a civil protection agent.

Of those killed, 96.5 percent were men, and most of them were under 40 years old.

Bouderbala said “responsibility for these murders and acts of violence belongs to former president Ben Ali, who gave the order to violently crush the uprising,” as well as the interior, defence and health ministries.

The lawyer cited various difficulties in obtaining information for the report, including a lack of protection for witnesses.

The delay in producing a definitive list of victims has led to angry condemnations from Tunisians.

Previous casualty estimates had been provided by the United Nations, which said there were about 300 deaths and 700 injuries.

Bouderbala said snipers who spread terror after Ben Ali’s flight to Saudi Arabia were “actually members of security forces.”

Signature : TUNIS (AFP)

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