LONDON, Jan 13 (Reuters) - The cost of insuring exposure to Tunisian risk has surged as political unrest escalates, with credit default swaps on the country's central bank touching 18-month highs on Thursday.
CDS monitor CMA DataVision said five year CDS on Banque Centrale de Tunisie (BCT) are now quoted at 154 bps, compared with around 120 bps at the end of last week. The BCT is commonly used as a proxy for the sovereign.
President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali is struggling to contain the biggest challenge to his rule since he took office over 23 years ago as crowds have demonstrated in several cities against unemployment, corruption and what they say is political repression.
Official estimates say 23 civilians have been killed in the unrest.
Tunisian stocks .TUNINDEX dropped more than 3 percent on Thursday and have plunged more than 12 percent in the past week.