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Six Policemen Wounded in Attacks in Tunisia, Ministry Says

July 18 (Bloomberg) -- Six Tunisian policemen were injured when they exchanged fire with gunmen in Menzel Bourguiba, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of the capital city of Tunis on July 16, the Interior Ministry said.

“Extremists” also set police stations and other public property on fire in provinces across Tunisia in an attempt to “undermine the climate of stability and security” that prevailed after the lawlessness following the ouster of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on Jan. 14, the ministry said in a faxed statement late yesterday.

In a separate incident, a 14-year-old boy was shot dead when police tried to disperse hundreds of protesters in the central town of Sidi Bouzid, state-run Tunis Afrique Presse reported today.

Tunisians have protested in several provinces since July 15, calling for the resignation of Interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi and for the exclusion of former regime officials from the government. The authorities used tear gas to break up the crowds.

“Extremist political parties” were trying to sabotage the election for a Constituent Assembly planned for Oct. 23, the ministry said.

Essebsi said today that the violence aims at derailing the elections, which he vowed would be held on time.

“There is a conspiracy against Tunisia,” Essebsi told reporters. He, too, blamed “extremist” forces. “They are afraid of the elections and their results which will reveal their real size,” he said.

Related News and Information: For government news on Tunisia: {TNI TUNISIA GOV <GO>}

To contact the reporter on this story: Jihen Laghmari in Cairo at jlaghmari@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mahmoud Kassem at mkassem1@bloomberg.net.

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