As many as 14 people have been killed in clashes with police in Tunisia, marking the worst violence to hit the country in decades.
Authorities say police fired live rounds in self defence as people took to the streets to protest over a lack of jobs.
Demonstrations broke out in the cities of Thala and Gassrine over the weekend. The government of President Ben Ali has defended its actions, saying those killed were armed with Molotov cocktails and fire bombs.
Still, it appears the government is prepared to listen. A spokesperson says the administration would respond to the people’s grievances.
Opposition politicians in the country have called on the government to order the security forces to stop using live ammunition to prevent any further bloodshed.
Opponents claim between 25 and 30 people have died in the violence.
The United States has expressed concern about the handling of the protests.
There has been no public response yet from the European Union, which is Tunisia’s largest trading partner.