Tunisia declares state of emergency amid protests

Tunisian President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali declared a state of emergency on Friday and said protesters would be shot in an increasingly frantic effort to quell the worst unrest in his two decades in power.

After Ben Ali had dismissed the government and called an early parliamentary election, state television later said it expected a “historic decision” to satisfy popular demands –leaving it unclear what further moves Ben Ali intended.

Police had fired tear gas to disperse crowds in central Tunis demanding his immediate resignation. They were not satisfied with his promise on Thursday to step down in 2014.

“This state of emergency means that any gathering of more than three people is forbidden, that arms will be used by security forces in cases where a suspect does not stop when asked to do so by the police,” state television said.

Authorities imposed a curfew from 5 p.m. until 7 a.m. State television said a major announcement would be made soon.

Medical sources and a witness said 12 people died in overnight clashes in Tunis and the northeastern town of Ras Jebel.