The anti-French atmosphere in Tunis grows stronger as, on February 12th, crowds gather in front of President Bourguibe's residence shouting "Give us Arms" and calling for the evacuation of French troops.
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Background: The anti-French atmosphere in Tunis grows stronger as, on February 12th, crowds gather in front of President Bourguibe's residence shouting "Give us Arms" and calling for the evacuation of French troops.
The first major public demonstration to be staged in the Tunisian capital since the bombing incident that led to the tension between France and Tunisia, the mass gathering passed off quietly and ended peacefully.
Public reaction follows the bombing of the Tunisian village of Sakiet by French warplanes when over 70 local people-including many women and children-were killed and another 80 wounded.
French troops are still confined to their barracks and the task of supplying them with food is being carried out by French helicopter units.
The Army, in spite of the delicate position, seems to be keeping calm and General Gambiez, the French Commander-in-Chief, is reported to be hopeful that the trouble will blow over.
After the public demonstration, President Bourguiba- seen here with M.Bail Ledgham and M.Mehiri-made a statement to journalists in which he said that the Tunisian people had been "very touched" by the objective and humanitarian attitude adopted by the world's press on the French air raid on Sakiet.
They were convinced that thanks to this unanimity of foreign opinion justice would be done, that the dignity of the Tunisian people would be respected, and that the evacuation of French troops would not be delayed.
He gave a pledge of Tunisia's will to co-operate with "the people who respect human dignity, including the French people, who, in their immense majority, have stigmatized the Sakiet attack".
Asked whether he would be requesting the United Kingdom and United States for further arms, President Bourguiba replies that he would, but added that first there were problems of "winning the battle of evacuation and destroying the material consequences of colonialism".