Tunisian government cracks down on protests

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TUNIS — The government of Tunisia scrambled both to appease and to squelch mounting unrest on Wednesday as a three-week-old wave of violent demonstrations spread to the capital, where swarms of protesters called for the ouster of the authoritarian president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

The Tunisian Army and police were deployed around the city to meet the demonstrators, who coordinated their movements in part over public Web sites. The security forces wielded billyclubs, tear gas, and bullets. By late in the day the government decreed a night-time curfew, and there were reports that the relatives of the president were leaving the country for their own safety.

Full story: Mayhem Spreads in Tunisia