Photos: State of emergency

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  1. A Tunisian soldier talks with a woman during the sanitary service clean out in the Kasbah district after Tunisian inhabitants of Sidi Bouzid and protesters were evacuated following clashes with security forces in front of the government palace on Saturday, Jan. 29 in Tunis. Riot police and hundreds of protesters clashed in the Tunisian capital on January 28, 2011, as a new cabinet was sworn into office in a bid to end the unrest that has followed president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's ouster. Security forces fired warning shots and tear gas, as some groups threw stones in the main government quarter where protesters have remained camped out in front of Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi's offices for five days. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Tunisian sanitary service workers clean out a street in the Kasbah district on Jan. 29. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Tunisian protesters run away during clashes with riot police outside the prime minister's office in Tunis on Friday, Jan. 28. Tunisian security forces chased groups of protesters through central Tunis after dispersing hundreds of rural demonstrators holding a 24-hour sit-in outside government offices. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Tunisian riot police use their shields for cover during clashes with demonstrators after they stormed a protest camp outside the prime minister's office in Tunis on Jan. 28. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A man reads a newspaper with a story about the new ministers that have been put in the Tunisian government, at a street kiosk in downtown Tunis on Jan. 28. The Tunisian government ditched loyalists to its ousted president on Thursday -- a move which won backing from the powerful labor union and could help defuse protests. (Louafi Larbi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Tunisian students are blocked by security forces as they demonstrate in front of the Justice ministry in Tunis on January 27. Thousands took to the streets of Tunisia to call for old regime politicians to be ousted after the fall of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, as the cabinet prepared a reshuffle. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Tunisian protesters pull away barbed wire to let through the protesters on the other side of the police barricade near government offices in the Kasbah, the old city of Tunis, Jan. 27. Police blocked several roads leading up to the Kasbah in the Tunisian capital Tunis on Jan. 27 after a day of violent clashes on Jan. 26 between demonstrators and security forces who fired tear gas and left several people injured. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A protester from Tunisia's marginalised rural heartlands chants slogans during a demonstration outside the prime minister's office in Tunis, Jan. 27. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Protesters help municipality workers clear up piles of rubbish on the streets left behind by fellow protesters who spent the night outside the prime minister's office in the Kasbah, the old city of Tunis Jan. 27. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Policemen try to calm down a pro-government protester as he shouts towards anti-government protesters during a demonstration in central Tunis on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Hundreds of Tunisians rallied on Tuesday in support of the interim government formed after the ousting of president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, but later clashed with protesters demanding a purge of former regime loyalists. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A man cuts himself with scissors as he protests outside the once feared Tunisian Interior Ministry. The man was placated by citizens and suffered no serious injuries on Jan. 25, in Tunis, Tunisia. (Christopher Furlong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. A boy hangs from the door as he shouts slogans during an anti-government demonstration in central Tunis on Jan. 25. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Inhabitants of the central Tunisia region of Sidi Bouzid chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the Government palace in Tunis on Jan. 23. The protesters came from a poverty-stricken rural region where the crackdown against protesters in the final days of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's 23-year regime was at its harshest. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Protesters who marched from the rural areas of Tunisia as part as the 'Liberation Caravan' take a rest outside the prime minister's office on Jan. 23, in Tunis, Tunisia. (Christopher Furlong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Tunisians light candles during a nighttime vigil in downtown Tunis, Jan. 22. Protesters in Tunisia, emboldened by their overthrow of the president a week ago, took to the streets Saturday to try and force out his lieutenants, whom they accuse of clinging to power in the face of popular anger. (Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Tunisian soldiers stand guard near the Prime Minister's office during a demonstration in Tunis, Jan. 22. Tunisia's interim prime minister promised to quit politics after the elections, a pledge intended to appease protesters demanding remnants of the old guard leave a unity coalition formed after the overthrow of the president. (Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Police officers celebrate as they demonstrate in Tunis, Saturday, Jan. 22. Tunisia's once-feared police who carried out the repressive policies of their now exiled president are joining hands with protesters who brought down the dictator. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A protester gestures in front of the headquarters of the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party of ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali during a demonstration in downtown Tunis on Jan. 20, 2011. (Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. People demonstrate on Jan. 20 in Tunis against the former president's Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) in a new wave of anger about the presence of RCD stalwarts in the transitional government. (Martin Bureau / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Protesters kiss and embrace soldiers during a demonstration in Tunis on Jan. 20. Some observers have said that the army's restraint has helped to keep protests from escalating. (Martin Bureau / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Interim President Fouad Mebazaa (fifth from right) and Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi (bottom left) attend the first session of the newly appointed transitional cabinet on Jan. 20 at the government palace in Tunis. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A soldier pushes back a protester as he shows that he is unarmed during a demonstration in front of the headquarters of the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party on Jan. 20. Police fired shots into the air to try to disperse hundreds of protesters demanding that ministers associated with the ousted president leave the government. (Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Family of Mohamed Bouazizi pray and mourn at his grave in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid on Wednesday, Jan. 19. Bouazizi, a vegetable salesman, set himself on fire on Dec. 17, igniting protests that forced ex-president Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali to flee the country. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. A man looks at inscriptions written on the walls in the scorched and looted home belonging to the nephew of ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Hammamet, southeast of Tunis on Jan. 19. (Martin Bureau / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Protesters carry a coffin symbolizing the death of the Constitutional Democratic Rally party of ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali during a demonstration in downtown Tunis on Jan. 19. Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in the Tunisian capital on Wednesday to demand the dismissal from the new coalition government of ministers associated with ousted president Ben Ali. (Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. A woman reacts during a demonstration against the Constitutional Democratic Rally party of deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in central Tunis on Jan. 19. (Thibault Camus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. A protestor throws back tear gas at the police during clashes after a demonstration against the Constitutional Democratic Rally, RCD, party of Ben Ali in the center of Tunis on Tuesday, Jan. 18. Four ministers quit Tunisia's day-old government on Tuesday, undermining its hopes of quelling unrest by sharing power with members of the opposition to the old regime. Clashes broke out in central Tunis around the time the resignations were announced, as police fought off protesters demanding that the new cabinet be purged of the old guard that served Ben Ali. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Protestors hold bread as they face riot police officers during a demonstration against the Constitutional Democratic Rally, RCD, party of Ben Ali in the center of Tunis, on Jan. 18. 2011. Four ministers quit Tunisia's day-old government on Tuesday, undermining its hopes of quelling unrest by sharing power with members of the opposition to the old regime. Clashes broke out in central Tunis around the time the resignations were announced, as police fought off protesters demanding that the new cabinet be purged of the old guard that served Ben Ali. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. A man lies injuried during a demonstration in Tunis on Jan.18. Riot police fired tear gas and clashed with protesters on January 18 at a small protest rally against Tunisia's new government in the centre of the capital, AFP reporters on the ground saw. Around 100 protesters chanted slogans against the RCD party of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. "We can live on bread and water alone but not with the RCD," they said. Riot police dispersed the rally -- one of several expected. (Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Tunisian opposition figure Moncef Markouzi celebrates is he is welcomed by supporters, after arriving at the international airport of Tunis on Jan. 18, 2010. Tunisia's day-old government was shaken by the resignation of four ministers on Tuesday, undermining its hopes of quelling simmering unrest by sharing power with members of the opposition to the old regime. (Thibault Camus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. A demonstrator reacts as security forces use water canons to disperse protesters downtown Tunis on Monday, Jan. 17. Police disperesed crowds after demonstrators took to the streets demanding that the ruling party of the ousted president give up power. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. People demonstrate in central Tunis on Jan. 17. Tunisian protesters called for the abolition of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's ruling party amid a chaotic power vacuum as politicians prepared a government of national unity. Hundreds of people rallied in Tunis and there were similar protests in Sidi Bouzid and Regueb in central Tunisia - two towns at the heart of the movement that forced Ben Ali to resign and flee on Friday after 23 years in power. (Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. A demonstrator argues with a policeman during a protest in central Tunis on Jan. 17. Hundreds rallied in central Tunis on Monday to demand the abolition of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's ruling party. Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi was a close ally of Ben Ali and held talks with opposition parties on Sunday to form a national unity government. (Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Police beat a demonstrator in central Tunis on Jan. 17. (Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, left, speaks with Tunisian interim President Foued Mbazaa upon his arrival at the Prime Ministry at the Casbah, in Tunis, Tunisia, on Jan 17. The army continued to patrol the streets as the country awaited the formation of a new national unity government. Tanks were still being deployed on the main avenue in Tunis and army helicopters flew over the city as the administration of interim President Foued Mabazaa sought to stamp out the lawlessness that took hold after longtime leader Zine el-Abidine ben Ali abruptly left power on Jan. 14. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Protestors greet soldiers during a demonstration against former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in the center of Tunis on Jan. 17. Helicopters circled overhead as police used tear gas to break up a demonstration on the main avenue in central Tunis. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. People view the ransacked home of Kaif Ben Ali, nephew of former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, in the Mediterranean resort of Hammamet, about 40 milesfrom the capital on Sunday, Jan. 16. Several hundred people filed through the home of Kaif Ben Ali, taking photographs, picking up plants as souvenirs and stripping out plumbing fixtures, two days after the president was ousted. The home was also set ablaze, according to witnesses. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. A woman tries to convince army soldiers to allow her to cross a street in Tunis on Saturday, Jan. 15. Hundreds of soldiers patrolled the streets of the Tunisian capital on Saturday where the prime minister was met opposition parties in an attempt to form a coalition after protests swept the president from power. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Workers clean a train station dammaged overnight, on Jan. 15 in Tunis. Looting took place overnight in the suburbs of Tunis, witnesses said. (Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. A protester hits a policeman during clashes with riot police in downtown Tunis on Friday, Jan. 14. Tunisian President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali stepped aside on Friday after failing to quell the worst anti-government unrest in his two decades in power. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Protesters carry an unconscious woman during clashes with riot police in the downtown of the capital Tunis on Jan. 14. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Women run during clashes with riot police in downtown Tunis, Jan. 14. Tunisian President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali declared a state of emergency on Friday and warned that protesters would be shot in an increasingly frantic effort to quell the worst unrest in his two decades in power. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, center, addresses the nation on state television Friday. He said that he had taken over as interim president after Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had left the country. (Channel 7 / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. A column of smoke rises from buildings during clashes in Tunis on Friday. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. Plain clothed police and riot police officers clash with demonstrators in Tunis. Tunisia's president left the country as gunfire echoed in the North African country's usually calm capital. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  46. Demonstrators gather in front of the interior ministry in Tunis on Friday demanding President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali resign. Thousands of angry demonstrators marched through Tunisia's capital a day after the country's autocratic leader appeared on TV to try to stop deadly riots that have swept the North African nation. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  47. "No to Ben Ali, the uprising continues," hundreds shouted in a march down the main boulevard in central Tunis. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  48. A demonstrator throws a stone at police during clashes in Tunis on Friday. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  49. Riot police officers detain a protestor during clashes in Tunis on Friday. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  50. Protesters chant slogans against President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunis on Friday. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  51. General secretary of the opposition Progressive Democratic party (PDP) Maya Jeridi, center, shouts slogans in front the Interior ministry in Habib Bourguiba avenue in Tunis on Friday. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  52. People wait in front of the departure gate at the airport in Tunis on Friday. The army took control of the main international Tunis Carthage airport on January 14 and the country's airspace was shut down, an airport source told AFP, as weeks of unrest escalated. (Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  53. President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali addresses the nation on Thursday. Ben Ali, facing a wave of violent unrest, said he would not change the constitution to allow him to run again when his term expires in 2014. (Handout via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  54. Supporters of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali demonstrate in Tunis on Thursday night. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  55. Rescue workers evacuate unidentified victims of violence on stretchers in Tunis on Thursday. (Hedi Ben Salem / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  56. Newly appointed interior minister Ahmed Friaa attends an extraordinary session at the Chamber of Deputies in Tunis on Thursday. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  57. Tunisian security forces face demonstrators during clashes on Monday in Regueb, near Sidi Bouzid. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  58. A demonstrator injured in clashes with security forces on Sunday in Regueb, near Sidi Bouzid. Protests sparked by high youth unemployment spread from the central town of Sidi Bouzid to other parts of the country. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  59. A child holds a sign asking for the release of people kept in custody by police following recent protests, during a demonstration in Tunis on Jan. 8. (Hassene Dridi / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  60. Lawyer Abderrahman Ayedi takes off his shirt during a meeting in Tunis on Dec. 29 to show to human rights activist and lawyer Radhia, second from right, marks on his body. He said that he had been subjected to torture the previos day after he was arrested by police. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  61. President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, second from left, meets patient Mohamed Bouazizi during a visit at the Ben Arous hospital near Tunis on Dec. 28. Bouazizi, a 26-year-old university graduate, had set himself on fire in a protest over unemployment, sparking a wave of unrest and clashes. (Handout via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: A Tunisian soldier talks with a woman du
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    Above: Slideshow (61) State of emergency in Tunisia - State of emergency
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    Slideshow (11) State of emergency in Tunisia - World reaction
updated 1/16/2011 5:04:55 PM ET 2011-01-16T22:04:55

Major gunbattles erupted outside the palace of Tunisia's deposed president, in the center of the capital, in front of the main opposition party headquarters and elsewhere on Sunday as authorities struggled to restore order and the world waited to see if the North African nation would continue with its first steps away from autocratic rule.

Police arrested dozens of people, including the top presidential security chief, as tensions appeared to mount between Tunisians buoyant over Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's departure and loyalists in danger of losing major perks.

There were cheers and smiles in much of Tunis, the capital, as residents tore down the massive portraits of Ben Ali, some of them several stories high, that hung from lampposts and billboards and were omnipresent during his 23-year reign.

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Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi said on state TV that a new national unity government will "most certainly" be announced Monday "to open a new page in the history of Tunisia."

There are three legal opposition parties that could be included in the government Ghannouchi has been directed to form by the interim president, Fouad Mebazaa. Negotiations are advanced, Ghannouchi said Sunday night.

Worries among Tunisians, however, grew with the violence and worsening shortages of essentials such as milk, bread and fresh fish.

"We're starting to feel it now," said Imed Jaound at the Tunis port, which has been closed since Friday, when Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia.

World Blog: Waiting for real change in Tunisia

A gunbattle broke out around the presidential palace late Sunday afternoon in Carthage on the Mediterranean shore, about 15 kilometers (10 miles) north of Tunis. The army and members of the newly appointed presidential guard fought off attacks from militias loyal to Ben Ali, said a member of the new presidential guard. Helicopters were surveying the zone.

The militias emerged from a forest to charge, the guard member said by telephone. He told The Associated Press the militia are "numerous" and are using various kinds of arms but gave no further details. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be publicly named.

Slideshow: State of emergency in Tunisia (on this page)

Residents of Carthage — a center of power in ancient times but now a Tunis suburb popular with tourists — said they have barricaded themselves inside their homes amid the shooting. Many soldiers were in the palace, but it was unclear whether any of the interim government's leaders were.

One Carthage resident said she saw four men in a taxi speed through a military checkpoint at the end of her street and toward the palace nearby. Soldiers shot at the taxi and the men inside returned fire.

The resident, who asked not to be named because of security concerns, said her neighbors saw other armed men break through checkpoints in civilian cars. The gunbattle lasted about four hours before calm returned in the evening, she said.

Other gunfights broke out near the PDP opposition party headquarters and a two-hour-long gunbattle raged behind the Interior Ministry, long feared during Ben Ali's reign as a torture site. Residents of the city center heard constant volleys of gunfire throughout much of the afternoon; they were ordered to stay away from windows and keep their curtains closed.

The prime minister said Sunday night that police and the army have arrested numerous members of armed groups, without saying how many.

"The coming days will show who is behind them," Ghannouchi said. He added that arms and documents have been seized from those arrested.

"We won't be tolerant towards these people," the prime minister said.

The security chief, Ali Seriati, and his deputy were charged with a plot against state security, aggressive acts and for "provoking disorder, murder and pillaging," the TAP state news agency reported.

Police stopped vehicles as the city remained under a state of emergency. More than 50 people were arrested on suspicion of using ambulances, rental cars and government vehicles for random shootings, a police official told The Associated Press. A crowd of 200 in Tunis cheered one such arrest Sunday.

Before the gunbattle at the opposition party headquarters, police arrested a group of nine Swedish boar hunters traveling in taxis toward a nearby hotel after their flight home was canceled, one of the Swedes, Ove Oberg, said. Police roughed the men up and accused them of being terrorists, Oberg said, recounting his ordeal before a group of journalists.

"When they saw this gun, they went crazy," he said, referring to a hunting rifle in the trunk of the taxi.

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Six of the men were released, some with their clothes stained with blood, while three others remained in police custody Sunday evening.

Dozens of people have died in a month of clashes that were initially between police and protesters angry about repression and corruption but now appear to be between police and Ben Ali loyalists.

A Paris-based photojournalist, Loucas Mebrouk von Zabiensky, 32, of the EPA photo agency, was in critical condition after being hit in the face Friday with a tear gas canister, according to a French consular official in Tunisia. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of embassy rules, did not provide other details or an explanation of an earlier announcement that the photographer had died.

Mebazaa, a former parliament speaker who was sworn in as interim president Sunday, has told Ghannouchi to create a national unity government and urged him to consult with the opposition, who were marginalized under Ben Ali. Presidential elections are to be held in 60 days.

The downfall of the 74-year-old Ben Ali, who had taken power in a bloodless coup in 1987, served as a warning to other autocratic leaders in the Arab world. His Mediterranean nation, a popular tourist destination known for its wide beaches, deserts and ancient ruins, had seemed more stable than many in the region before the uprising that began last month. Hundreds of stranded tourists were still being evacuated from the country Sunday.

Tunisia's foreign minister will brief Arab leaders meeting in Egypt this week on the upheaval surrounding Ben Ali's ouster.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet that the unrest in Tunisia illustrated the widespread instability plaguing the region and underscored the need for strong security arrangements in any future peace deal with the Palestinians.

Many Tunisians were especially overjoyed at the prospect of life without Ben Ali's wife Leila Trabelsi and her family.

Leaked U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks had discussed the high levels of nepotism and corruption displayed by Trabelsi's clan. But U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley rejected any notion that WikiLeaks disclosures led to the revolution in Tunisia, saying Sunday that Tunisians were already well aware of the graft, nepotism and lavish lifestyles of the former president and his relatives.

Tunisian media reported one brother-in-law of the president, Imed Trabelsi, was attacked by an angry mob at Tunis airport and died. The reports could not be immediately confirmed.

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Ordinary Tunisians concentrated on two key needs Sunday — food and security.

Many scoured the capital for food as calm returned to some residential areas. Most shops remained closed Sunday, others were looted and bread and milk were running short.

Fish mongers were selling two- or three-day-old fish, said Ezzedine Gaesmi, a salesman at the indoor market in Tunis, where many stands were empty.

"There's no fresh fish. If it continues for two or three more days, we'll close," he said.

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Overnight citizen patrols armed with bats, sticks and golf clubs were being organized in both wealthy and working-class neighborhoods. Fatma Belaid stayed up late to serve rounds of coffee to patrols in her section of Tunis.

"Everyone participates as he can," she said.

A well-known human rights advocate returned home to the embattled — but in many ways, hopeful — country. Souhayr Belhassen, president of the International Federation of Human Rights, said her long-repressed countrymen appear poised for unprecedented freedoms.

"We can start to hope," agreed Nejib Chebbi, a founder of the opposition PDP party. But he said the key question is whether a new government will be pluralistic or again dominated by Ben Ali's RCD party.

"If the RCD is dominant, we're not out of the woods," he said.

___

Juergen Baetz in Berlin, Diaa Hadid in Jerusalem and Jenny Barchfield in Paris contributed to this report.

The Associated Press and Reuters.

Video: Tourists scramble to escape chaos of Tunisia

  1. Closed captioning of: Tourists scramble to escape chaos of Tunisia

    >>> now to tunisia where the capital remains a tense place tonight two days after the long-time president was drirch from power. the prime minister says a national unity government will be announced today. in the meantime tunisians and many foreigners are caught in the middle . the u.s. is warning americans to avoid travel to tunisia. john ray is in the capital again for us tonight.

    >> reporter: the great scramble to escape tunis, tourists an unwilling witness to revolution in the chaos that followed. embassy officials seemed overwhelmed, many are stranded again tonight. bridget young has been studying arabic here, but now she's trying to get home to san diego .

    >> it's chaos.

    >> reporter: two days after the popular uprising that ending with the country's leader of 23 years going into exile, tunis is tense. the city's center is under army occupation, and the soldiers seem to share a nation's nervousness. close to one government building we're halted and at gunpoint made to sit. this is a vivid illustration of how tense the city is. we're being held by the army men pointing guns at us and told that we cannot leave. long minutes pass before we're leased. the man next to me tells the soldiers he's an armed police officer, but it's the police most mistrusted. in the suburbs vigilantes mount checkpoints. we come across these men brandishing knives. they say supporting of the ousted president are looting and creating havoc trying to destroy the new beginning. what were symbols of power are ram sacked. this was a seaside villa of a nephew of the president. his possessions are torched or scattered. this is one of the many luxury homes owned by the former president's family. it's now a ruined monument to the corruption and excess. the turmoil has not yet ended nor is it clear what will come next. john ray , nbc

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