Another 150 Tunisians arrested, including local opposition leaders

Tunisian security authorities have arrested another 150 people, including local opposition leaders, over protests against price and tax increases.

Hundreds had taken to the streets of Tunis to show their displeasure with the hikes, prompting a deployment of troops.

Activists and opposition leaders have however urged their supporters to take to the streets on Sunday, the seventh anniversary of the toppling of authoritarian president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

“The protests have declined and there was no damage, but last night the police arrested 150 people involved in rioting in the past few days, bringing the total number of detainees to 778,” Interior Ministry spokesman Khelifa Chibani said.

Chibani added that sixteen “Islamist extremists” were among those detained.

Three local leaders of the main opposition bloc, Popular Front, were detained in Gafsa for allegedly setting fire to a government building, Reuters reports a judicial source to have said.

The Popular Front said its leaders had been targeted in a political campaign that was “reproducing the methods of the oppressive Ben Ali regime”.

The price and tax increases took effect on January 1.