LONDON, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- European leaders rushed to condemn the outbreak of violence in Tunisia after the government shuttered schools and universities to quell rioting.
Tunisia has an unemployment rate of around 14 percent and protesters complain the nation's youth are bearing the brunt of the lack of jobs.
At least 14 people were killed in rioting according to official figures, though the death toll could be much higher.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague called on authorities in Tunisia to take steps to resolve the situation without further conflict.
"I condemn the violence in Tunisia and the deaths of protesters and regret today's announcement of the closure of all national schools and universities across the country," he said in a statement.
A statement by Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, and Stefan Fule, the EU enlargement commissioner, expressed Europe's concern about the violence.
"We are concerned about the events that have been taking place in Tunisia in recent days," the statement read. "In particular, we deplore the violence and the death of civilians."
The violence directed at the government was sparked by a 26-year-old college graduate who set himself on fire and died after police took away produce he was trying to sell in a market.