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About 300 people killed in original Tunisian uprising, U.N. reports

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The death toll is expected to rise, says the U.N. expert on torture
  • About 700 people were also injured
  • Popular protests in Tunisia led to the resignation of the long-time president in January

(CNN) -- At least 300 people were killed and 700 injured during the Tunisian uprising, a top U.N. human rights expert said Saturday.

Juan Mendez, who is in the north African nation this week to study issues facing the interim government, was briefed by a fact-finding commission set up to deal with accusations of human rights abuses since December 17.

He said he expects the death toll to climb as the group continues its investigation. Mendez is the United Nations' special rapporteur on torture. He compiles reports and presents them to the U.N.

Protests in Tunisia erupted late last year. Fed up with corruption, unemployment and escalating prices of food, people began demonstrating en masse after the self-immolation suicide of a fruit cart vendor in December.

The popular protests led to the resignation of the long-time president in January, prompting a wave of unrest across the Arab world.

Mendez' visit marks the first official visit to Tunisia by a U.N. independent human rights expert since the creation of the interim government.

He arrived in Tunisia on May 15 and is expected to leave Sunday.