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UN rights chief calls for probe into Tunisia violence

The UN’s human rights chief on Wednesday called on Tunisian authorities to launch an independent probe into deadly violence in the country, saying reports suggested security forces had reacted with “excessive force.”

The government says that 21 people were killed in three days of unrest in the western Kasserine region but labour unions and rights groups said more than 50 were dead.

“Reports suggest that the majority of protests have been peaceful in nature, and that security forces reacted with excessive force in breach of international standards,” said Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement.

“It is imperative that the government launch a transparent, credible and independent investigation into the violence and killings.

“If there is evidence that members of the security forces have used excessive force, or conducted extra-judicial killings, they must be arrested, tried and — if found guilty of offences — punished according to the law,” she added.

Protests had erupted in Tunisia since December against the authoritarian regime, as discontent over high food prices and unemployment boiled over.