Tunisian police yesterday fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators who attempted to break into a gas pumping station in the south of the country as protests over jobs turned violent, Reuters reported.
Protesters forced the closure of the Vana Pumping Station along with other oil and gas facilities in the area over the weekend. They called for a share in the job market and energy revenues.
The Tunisian defence ministry said that it would use force to protect and retake the gas and oil facilities, while the army reopened Vana station however the protesters closed it again, triggering a violent response from the army.
Witnesses told Reuters that the clashes broke out at Vana when the military took back control to reopen the station.
Following the protests, the Tunisian government offered 1,000 job opportunities to locals with a further 500 to become available next year.
It said that the protesters rejected this offer, noting that they wanted all the jobs to start immediately in addition to a development fund with a $50 million deposit paid by the oil companies.
Tunisia is a small oil producer with an output of about 44,000 barrels per day. Italian, Austrian and French firms are investing in the country's oil industry.