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Tunisia calls up reserve troops amid unrest

TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisia's Defense Ministry called up recently retired troops Monday as the country struggled to contain unrest that has persisted even after the ouster of the North African country's dictatorial regime.

A statement published by official news agency TAP asked soldiers who have retired within the past five years, as well as youths who recently completed military service, to report for duty starting Sunday. It was not immediately clear how many reinforcements the move would bring.

Tunisia has been trying to restore order since former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled into exile Jan. 14 after a month of nationwide antigovernment protests. Unrest has continued since then in some regions, in the form of looting and unrest by gangs of knife-roaming thugs. There are widespread fears that Ben Ali loyalists are encouraging anarchy to upset what Tunisians call a "people's revolution."

This weekend brought the worst violence in Tunisia since Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia, ending 23 years in power. Crowds pillaged and burned a police station in the northwestern city of Kef, a day after police shot dead at least two demonstrators.

The country, meanwhile, continues to prepare for presidential elections, which are expected in six months. On Sunday, Tunisia's interior minister suspended all activities of the country's longtime ruling party.

Tunisia's prime minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi, has appealed for international aid to help offset economic losses estimated in the billions of dollars following the country's weeks of unrest.

Tunisia calls up reserve troops amid unrest 02/07/11 [Last modified: Monday, February 7, 2011 10:32pm]
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