May 24, 2011 / 3:09 PM / 9 years ago

Refugees, residents clash in southern Tunisia

TUNIS (Reuters) - Violence broke out in the southern Tunisian town of Ben Guerdan on Tuesday between residents and people from a nearby camp for refugees from Libya, witnesses said, with some reporting deaths among demonstrators.

“The military were firing in the air to disperse the two groups ... hundreds were fighting,” one witness from Ben Guerdan, who said his name was Mohammed, told Reuters. “The confrontation caused many injuries, and perhaps deaths too.”

Refugees from the Choucha camp, 7 km from Tunisia’s border with Libya, have been demonstrating against conditions there since the death of four people in a fire on Sunday.

Violence flared after residents said the refugees, who they said were mostly Somali, Sudanese and Eritrean, blocked a road in the town for three days.

The refugees were trying to enter the centre of Ben Guerdan, but were stopped by the military, who threw tear gas and fired in the air to disperse them.

Witnesses spoke of deaths, though no official confirmation was given. One resident said there were at least three deaths.

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