Tunisian government troops have fired tear gas and warning shots into a crowd of hundreds of protesters staging a rally outside the interior ministry in the capital Tunis.

Police and masked men also reportedly prowled through the crowds beating back people with sticks. Agence France Presse (AFP) reported that police arrested several protesters.

Go home. I'll show you what democracy is, one police officer was heard shouting, AFP said

The demonstration came one day after another huge rally demanded the resignation of the country’s interim prime minister, Mohammed Ghannouchi. In that disturbance, clashes between police and demonstrators left 21 police officers injured and three police stations damaged.

The interior ministry blamed Friday’s clash on students and young people.

We call on parents to discourage their children from participating in this type of demonstration, to encourage them to return to classes and to do everything to avoid that they serve as human shields for groups of trouble-makers, the ministry stated.

Ghannouchi, who replaced the ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, promised to hold elections by mid-July.

However, protesters remain dissatisfied with the slow pace of reforms and will officials from Ben Ali’s former regime (including Ghannouchi) retaining key positions in the interim government.