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Tunis police disperse protesters outside US embassy

September 12, 2012

Police officers guard the United States embassy in Tunis, Wednesday, Sept.12, 2012 as ultraconservative Muslims demonstrate outside the embassy to demand the closure of the embassy and the departure of the ambassador. -AP Photo

TUNIS: Tunisian police on Wednesday fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of Salafist demonstrators outside the US embassy in Tunis gathered to condemn a film deemed offensive to Islam, an AFP photographer said.

He said the intervention came as the demonstrators, estimated to number 300, started to try to break through the gates of the embassy compound after having demonstrated peacefully for several hours outside.

An AFP photographer said men and women protesters carrying black and white salafist flags had massed outside the diplomatic compound.

Police deployed reinforcements at the already highly secure embassy blockhouse, with a military vehicle standing guard outside and motorbike units patrolling the area.

A source inside the compound told AFP the embassy was working as normal on Wednesday despite the violence in Libya and Egypt.

On Tuesday, US ambassador to Tripoli Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi when an armed mob stormed the American consulate there, torching the building after ransacking and looting it.

And in Cairo, several thousand people stormed the American embassy in a similar protest against the amateur American-made Internet video called “Innocence of Muslims.”

The low-budget movie, in which actors have strong American accents, portrays Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent.

It was produced by Israeli-American Sam Bacile, according to the Wall Street Journal.