Tunisia police shoot dead at least two at Kef protest

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Media captionFootage from Tunisian TV showed burnt-out vehicles in the street

Tunisian police have shot dead at least two people during a protest in the north-western town of Kef.

Officers opened fire after a crowd attacked and burned a police station, demanding the resignation of the police chief they accused of abuse of power.

Unconfirmed reports say another two people died on the way to hospital.

The deaths came as a nationwide night-time curfew, imposed during the unrest which ousted President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, was shortened by two hours.

The protests are widely seen as a having inspired the current turmoil in Egypt and demonstrations in other countries in the region.

Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Kef police station on Saturday.

Witnesses told state media the situation deteriorated after the police chief, Khaled Ghazouani, slapped a woman in the crowd.

Protesters reportedly threw stones and petrol bombs at the building.

"The police fired to prevent the protesters from breaking into the station," Reuters news agency quoted the ministry official as saying.

Initial reports said four people had been killed, but it later emerged that the later deaths had not been confirmed. Another 17 people were injured in the violence.

Regional prefect Mohamed Najib Tlijali has appealed for calm, and said Mr Ghazouani was had been arrested, the Associated Press reports.

Reduced threat

Earlier on Saturday, two members of the security forces were arrested in Sidi Bouzid, in connection with the death of two detainees earlier in the week.

The town was the origin of the weeks of unrest which ousted Mr Ben Ali in mid-January.

The UN says at least 219 people died in the unrest. The police force has largely been blamed for the deaths.

The country has been relative calm since Mr Ali went into exile, but small-scale protests demanding the removal of anyone linked to the former regime have continued.

A unity government has been sworn in and Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has promised elections within six months.

While a night-time curfew remains in place, it has now been shortened to four hours, between midnight and 0400 local time (2300 GMT to 0300 GMT).

Earlier on Saturday, the UK's Foreign Office lifted its travel warning for Tunisia, citing a "reduced threat".

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Media captionFootage from Tunisian TV showed burno-out vehicles in the street

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