UN hears of more than 100 deaths in Tunisia

19th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said on Wednesday that her office had received information on more than 100 deaths during Tunisia's political turmoil over the past five weeks.

"My office has received information concerning more than 100 deaths over the last five weeks, as a result of live fire, as well as protest suicides and the deadly prison riots at the weekend," Pillay told journalists.

"According to this information, over 70 died as a result of live fire, seven died in protest suicides, and over 40 died during the prison riots at the weekend," Pillay explained.

"Obviously the exact figures remain uncertain, but whatever the precise total, I am extremely concerned by the high number of people killed in Tunisia in recent weeks," she added.

No indication was given on the sources of the information.

Interior Minister Ahmed Friaa said on Monday that 78 people have been killed in Tuni

sia during a month of turmoil, almost quadrupling the official death toll.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said events "triggered by the courageous people of Tunisia have been unfolding, with astonishing speed."

Pillay said she was sending a assessment mission to the country and insisted on "the need for justice to be done."

"This would be one of the priorities of the mission that would be going next week to ascertain from the families about their losses," she added.

Tunisia's President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to exile in Saudi Arabia last Friday after a popular revolt spelled the end of 23 years of iron-fisted rule in Tunisia, but sporadic violence has continued since then.

© 2011 AFP

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