Tunisian Police Use Shotgun Shells Against Protesters

Around 265 people were injured on Wednesday during a second day of clashes between security forces and protesters in Siliana, North-West of Tunisia. Clashes started on November 27, when residents of Siliana, an impoverished interior region, staged a general strike and took to the street to call for the departure of the local governor, demand regional development and ask for the release of protesters arrested during another unrest which took place last April.

What highlighted these clashes was the use of shotgun shells by police against protesters. Ali Laarayedh, the Tunisian Minister of Interior, confirmed the police use of shotgun shells to “face destruction and vandalism acts”, he declared yesterday during a televised interview broadcast on state owned Al-Wataniay TV 1.

On November 28, Sami Ben Gharbia reported [ar] on Nawaat.org :

حسب التقارير المصورة و المكتوبة للإحتجاجات التي شهدتها مدينة سليانة البارحة تأكد خبر سقوط العديد من الجرحى جراء استعمال سلاح جديد من قبل قوى «الأمن» ل «احتواء المظاهرات» و الإحتجاجات الإجتماعية و الإقتصادية. و على ما يبدو فإن أمن السيد وزير الداخلية علي العريض بصدد استعمال سلاح جديد في تونس كان قد تم التنديد باستخدامه دوليا خاصة في البحرين

According to the visual and written reports on yesterday's protests in Siliana, several injuries were registered as a result of the use of a new weapon by the security forces, in an attempt to “contain” the socio-economic protests. It seems that the police of Minister of Interior Ali Laarayedh, are deploying a new weapon in Tunisia, whose use brought international condemnation especially in Bahrain.

Ben Gharbia adds:

وقد جاءت شهادات المواطنين و الأطباء لتؤكد خبر أستخدام قوات الأمن التونسي بسليانة لبنادق الصيد لتفريق المتظاهرين و إصابة البعض بشظايا رصاصها. إسم السلاح المستعمل في البحرين و الذي يبدو أنه استعمل هو أو شبيهه في تونس هو “الشوزن“. و هو عبارةعن بنادق للصيد ذات الرصاص المتشظي أو الانشطار ش

The testimonies of citizens and doctors came to confirm that Tunisian security forces used hunting rifles in Siliana to disperse protesters and wounded some of them with bullet pellets. The name of the weapon used in Bahrain, which is probably the same the similar of what is used in Tunisia is called “shotgun“. Shotgun is a hunting rifle.

Two wounded young men by Italian made shotguns: photo via Nawaat

Nawaat also reported that this type of firearm, deployed by police forces in Siliana, was made by an Italian company called Nobel Sport. Ben Gharbia posted the contact details of this company and made a call to Tunisian citizens to exercise pressure on this company to stop exporting such weapons to Tunisia.

The award-winning blog also published a Youtube video of injured persons arriving from Siliana to a Tunis-based ophthalmology clinic to get treatment after they were wounded in their eyes [Warning: Graphic content]:

The use of shotgun shells shocked and outraged Tunisian netizens. Tounsiahourra tweeted [ar]:

هل يعلم الحقوقي المرزوقي الذي تسلم قبل يومين جائزة تشاتام هاوس ان شبابا فقدوا البصر في سليانة لأن الأمن اطلق رصاص الرش في عيونهم ؟ #Siliana

Does the rights activist Marzouki [Tunisia President], who two days ago was awarded the Chatham House prize [en], know that young men who have lost their sight due to shotgun shells fired by police?

Tunisian journalist Nadia Haddaoui quotes [fr] Amnesty:

“La #chevrotine peut provoquer traumatismes majeurs et des décès si elle est tirée à faible distance” #Amnesty #Egypte #Bahrein #Siliana

“shotgun shell could lead to major trauma and death if fired from a short distance”

Selim raises a major question [fr]:

Comment ont-ils juste pu accepter d'utiliser ce type de munitions contre les tunisiens?? Blessures graves, risque d'aveuglement.. #siliana

How could they accept to use such type of ammunition against Tunisians?? serious injuries, and lost of sight risks…#Siliana

Editor-in-chief of Nawaat.org, Malek Kahdhraoui said that last June police used the same type of ammunition against demonstrators protesting against what they deemed as a “blasphemous” art exhibtion:

L'utilisat° des armes à grenaille pr la police n'est pas nouvelle. Au mois 2juin +eurs 10énes de blessés par ces armes http://nawaat.org/portail/2012/0

The use of shotgun shells by police is not new. In June, several dozens of injuries due to these weapons were registered http://nawaat.org/portail/2012/0

France24 journalist David Thomson was also injured by shotgun shells. He tweeted a picture of his injured leg:

#Tunisie et me voici à l'hôpital de #Siliana blessé par un tir de chevrotines mais ça va, il y a des blessés graves pic.twitter.com/SJesLq5Z

Here I am in #Siliana hospital wounded by a shotgun shell, but I am fine, there are serious injuries pic.twitter.com/SJesLq5Z

The general strike in Siliana continues. Meanwhile, protests in other regions of the country were staged to condemn police violence and stand in solidarity with Siliana.

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