Deadly clashes in Tunisian town of Sbeitla

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A teenage girl died and four other people were injured when Tunisian troops clashed with crowds in a provincial town, officials said.

State news agency Tap said police intervened when youths blocked a road in Sbeitla, 200km (130 miles) south-west of Tunis, for "looting".

However, residents said soldiers opened fire to break up fights involving hundreds of people, Reuters reported.

Elections are due to be held in Tunisia in October.

Last month police in Tunis used tear gas to break up a protest over lack of reforms since January's overthrow of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Although the cause of the clashes in Sbeitla was unclear, some residents blamed supporters of the deposed president for trying to destabilise the country ahead of elections, according to Reuters.

Correspondents say supporters of the former regime are often blamed for an increase in violence since January.

Interior ministry officials said police had fired warning shots at a crowd of youths, and a teenage girl was fatally injured in the ensuing rush, Tap reported.

Angry crowds then attacked a police station, buses and a hospital, the report said.

But local resident Adnan Hlali told Reuters by telephone that the army had tried to break up fights between people from the town and opened fire "killing a 16-year-old girl".

"Many people were wounded, including two in a critical condition," he said.

The protests in Tunisia earlier this year sparked revolts across the region - the movement that became known as the Arab Spring.

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