Justice opened an investigation on Monday following clashes between irregular migrants from sub-Saharan Africa and residents of Sfax, Tunisia's second city where illegal immigration has been causing great tension for months.
The clashes, with stone throwing, pitted migrants against residents of the Rabd district, spokesman for the Sfax prosecutor's office, Faouzi Masmoudi , told AFP . Vehicles and homes were damaged during the clashes, which caused no casualties, Masmoudi said.
An investigation has been opened to determine those responsible and the causes of this violence, he added. According to local media, the police intervened by using tear gas to put an end to the clashes.
Sfax , in east-central Tunisia, is the starting point for a large number of illegal crossings to Italy. Its inhabitants regularly protest against the presence of irregular migrants in their city and demand their departure.
In the popular neighborhoods of the city where the migrants live, verbal and physical violence often breaks out between the two parties. This violence increased after a speech on February 21 by President Kais Saied slamming illegal immigration and presenting it as a demographic threat to his country.
Several local and international NGOs then denounced "the hate speech and intimidation against migrants (from sub-Saharan Africa) broadcast on social networks which contribute to the mobilization against the most vulnerable groups and fuel violent behavior against them."
At the end of May, a 30-year-old Beninese migrant was fatally stabbed during an attack carried out by a group of young Tunisians in a working-class neighborhood in Sfax. Most migrants from sub-Saharan Africa come to Tunisia to then try to reach Europe by sea, landing clandestinely on the Italian coasts.