Tunisians Eager To Hold On To Newfound Freedom In Tunisia, remnants of forces loyal to ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali continue to stage attacks — often targeting civilians — around the country. In the port city of Bizerte, residents say they are trying to get past their anger and overcome their fear of what's next.
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Tunisians Eager To Hold On To Newfound Freedom

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Tunisians Eager To Hold On To Newfound Freedom

Tunisians Eager To Hold On To Newfound Freedom

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson traveled to the port city of Bizerte to find out how residents there are coping.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: The scars of the popular uprising that brought down the Tunisian president last week are visible here in this northernmost city of Africa. Alongside the many white buildings with blue shutters are the blackened remains of burned-down stores and offices. Most businesses remain closed. Graffiti calling the former president's wife a whore is spray-painted on a billboard. But residents of Bizerte say they are trying to get past their anger toward the former leader and overcome their fear of what's next.

NAJWA MADEAH: Unidentified Woman: (Speaking foreign language)

SARHADDI NELSON: Unidentified Woman: (Speaking foreign language)

SARHADDI NELSON: In recent days, a sniper fired into a crowd and killed one person. And resident Meqi Ben Ramadan says two men wearing uniforms of the presidential guard broke into his home.

MEQI BEN RAMADAN: (Speaking foreign language)

SARHADDI NELSON: The 52-year-old government worker says when he went to check on the noise, the black-clad guards wearing ski masks and carrying handguns chased him up the stairs. He says they fired at him, but missed. The bullets took chunks of plaster out of the stairwell.

BEN RAMADAN: (Speaking foreign language)

SARHADDI NELSON: Ben Ramadan describes how the guardsmen broke into his rooftop storage room and destroyed an ornate lamp.

BEN RAMADAN: (Speaking foreign language)

SARHADDI NELSON: He shows a visitor bullet cartridges fired by soldiers who pursued the gunmen.

BEN RAMADAN: (Speaking foreign language)

SARHADDI NELSON: Ben Ramadan believes the presidential guards came to his house because it overlooks a military compound across the street.

BEN RAMADAN: (Speaking foreign language)

SARHADDI NELSON: He says he's never been as afraid as he was that night, adding that his 23-year-old son is still afraid to leave the house.

SARHADDI NELSON: Resident Amin Ben Gharbia, says he, too, feels under siege. He also finds it interesting that Ben Ali loyalists are still fighting in his city, where about a half-century ago, the French made their last stand trying to hold on to this strategic locale after Tunisia gained independence.

AMIN BEN GHARBIA: Maybe because this city is too close to the capital and also it's by the coast. Maybe it's easier for them to escape, you know, on boats. We don't know yet, but also this city has got many mountains and there's many places where they can hide.

SARHADDI NELSON: Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News.

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