It's 4 am tunis time. I was laying in bed, trying to go to sleep when I was startled by violent explosions.
It was really close, coming from past the mosque, towards the neighborhood souk (market). There was the familiar automatic gunfire and something else that sounded like it could have been a grenade launcher or a tear gas canister (one smaller explosion, followed immediately by a large, extremely loud explosion).
My tunisian friends have been warning me about people who are either police, or claim to be police who come to your door and rob you. Don't open your doors for anyone they told me.
I'm probably not gonna get any sleep tonight, but tomorrow is a big day. We must buy food, axe handles and survey the destruction.
It's too early to tell, and I'm delirious from lack of sleep, but at this point the one Tunisian institution that really looks good in all this is the army. The progressive in me wants to disagree, but so far they have been the only institution that hasn't brutally and callously disregarded the rights of the average Tunisian.
According to rumors I've heard at cafes all week (an tonight online) Ben Ali activated the army and expected them to beat and shoot peaceful protesters like the police have been doing the entire month. However, the Army commanders supposedly refused to do so, and instead of scouring the streets disrupting protests, kept their soldiers stationed by banks and government offices to prevent looting.
Earlier this week i even heard (completely unconfirmed, cafe) reports of the Army actually getting into gun fights with police who were firing on unarmed civilians.
Whether or not all of this is true, the army seems to have enormous cache right now with average Tunisians. Hopefully they do the right thing and allow the opposition political parties (who also did their part in what is being called, rather cheesily, the jasmine revolution) to return and contest free and fair elections.
Time will tell.
Somewhere, somehow a mosque managed to let out the morning call to prayer....It's alway beautiful, but especially tonight.