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    Britons flee Tunisia after coup topples president


    by ODN

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    Thousands of British holidaymakers are returning from Tunisia after violent rioting swept through the North African country.

    Tour companies have implemented emergency evacuation programmes and cancelled flights to the popular tourist destination following escalating unrest, which saw its ousted president flee abroad.

    Thomson and First Choice plan to fly almost 1,500 remaining customers safely back to the UK by Sunday night, while Thomas Cook has suspended its Tunisia programme and has already evacuated nearly 1,800 holidaymakers.

    The Foreign Office has advised against all non-essential travel to the republic after days of violence between police and protesters peaked on Friday night.

    Thomson and First Choice, who have cancelled all of Sunday and Wednesday's flights to Tunisia, said: "The remaining 1,437 customers in Tunisia will be brought home as soon as possible.

    "We have been monitoring the situation continuously, and reacted immediately to the deterioration in circumstances and the change in FCO advice. We will now bring all customers back to the UK as quickly as possible."

    Tunisia has been rocked by unrest sparked by anger at unemployment and at a leadership, which many see as controlling and corrupt.

    Prime minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has announced that he is assuming power after President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country to the safe-haven of Saudi Arabia.

    The president earlier declared a state of emergency after saying he would dismiss his government and call new legislative elections within six months.

    Thousands of angry demonstrators had marched through Tunisia's capital, Tunis, to demand his resignation.