Tunisia starts curfew amid protests

TUNIS - Tunisia's government Friday announced a nationwide curfew as it counters demonstrations over a scarcity of jobs -- protests that come five years after similar complaints in the North African country spurred the first Arab Spring revolution.

After news of the curfew emerged, France announced a 1 billion euro aid package to its former protectorate -- one that France said would help Tunisia tackle its economic and social challenges.

The curfew, starting Friday, will run from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. in an attempt to protect public and private property from attack, the country's interior ministry said.

Demonstrators have recently taken to Tunisia's streets, protesting against, among other things, a high unemployment rate and poverty. One protester died and an unspecified number of police officers and demonstrators were injured in recent clashes, the country's state-run Tunis Afrique Presse reported.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said earlier this week that the protests were legitimate, but that people should understand that his government inherited the country's high unemployment and poverty issues, and that the protests "must not be amplified" as the government works through the problems.

Essebsi was elected in late 2014 in the country's first free presidential vote.

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