AFP 26.02.2011 - Police fire, police cars burned, vandalized cafes, benches and trees uprooted: Avenue Habib Bourguiba in Tunis at night looked like a real battlefield, with the police pursuing "terrorists" accused of wanting " chaos ".
Friday 23:00: a real manhunt is underway in downtown Tunis, where groups of demonstrators provoked for more than five hours police deployed near the Interior Ministry, claiming the "fall of the government" after a huge rally in front of the Kasbah.
Bursts of warning shots, tear gas, followed by automatic fire, panic seized the people in the capital which had not seen such violence since the fall of the police regime of President Ben Ali in mid-January.
Soldiers, riot police, plainclothes officers wearing balaclavas armed with batons then cross the city. Army helicopters flying at low altitude in the capital for hours.
But nothing stops a handful of brave ones' determination to penetrate the interior ministry, surrounded by barbed wire and tanks of the army police vehicles in the parking lot of the interior ministry on fire.
Avenue Bourguiba is sinking into thick columns of black smoke from several fires lit by protesters. The air, loaded with tear gas and smoke from fires, burns the eyes and is unbearable.
Armed police wearing masks approach AFP journalists. Their attitude is almost menacing, thinking they are demonstrators who sowed unrest.
Nearby, two police motorcycles are still burning. Some yards away, the facade of a police station near Yugoslavia street, is black with soot. The slabs of marble at the entrance were torn out and windows broken.
"They (protesters) were numerous, about 200 or more, want to enter the building, first they burned two police cars parked near the station. I was scared for my life especially when they tried to catch me after threatening to burn me alive," said one policeman, Saleh, 30, still in shock.
These "terrorists conducted a coordinated action," said another officer, "they told us: You have been increased, you soldiers of Ben Ali, but you will always be losers'."
Two carcasses of police cars and two motorcycles are still smoking nearby.
"I really thought it was my last day there was so much hatred in their eyes and their words," said another officer, baton in hand.
Further still, while still echoing explosions, a Monoprix located near the Embassy of France, sacked, finishes burning up.
The security forces arresting protesters at any cost, carrying out muscular beatings, some did not hesitate to throw to the ground and arrest a man screaming in terror.
Then suddenly, they stop a tram to get out the men inside by force. The blows rain down. The arrested men are rushed into police vans.
While the centre of Tunis is only desolation and cries resound.
Tunis plunged into a night rocked by explosions.