TUNIS, Tunisia, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- A week of protests and rioting over unemployment and economic conditions in Tunisia resulted in a nationwide curfew Friday.
The Interior Ministry announced the curfew after, it said, protesters "deviated from their initial objective of demanding employment and the right to work, and following acts of vandalism in certain regions."
Daily protests and rallies of solidarity began in the western Tunisia city of Kasserine on Saturday, prompted by the death of a teenager who climbed a power pole and was electrocuted after learning his was disqualified for a government job.
The protests spread to the cities of Tunis, Sidi Bouzid and Gafsa on Thursday, with reports of suicide attempts by people frustrated over their inability to find work. A police officer in the town of Feriana was reportedly killed when his vehicle was overturned by demonstrators.
The army was called to Kesserine to ensure compliance with the curfew. Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid cut a European trip short to return to Tunis from the Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland and a televised address to the nation is expected Saturday by President Beji Caid Essebi.
The events are reminiscent of an uprising five years ago, which spread across North Africa into the Arab spring movement. Although Tunisia has not endured the post-spring violence which engulfed Egypt, Libya and Syria, its economy has been damaged by two militant attacks in which about 60 tourists were killed.