Tunisian police have fired warning shots and tear gas to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters in the center of the capital.

Thousands of protesters gathered Friday in front of the Interior Ministry to call for the ouster of the interim government that has run Tunisia since the country's previous ruler was ousted and fled into exile last month.

The protesters held prayers in the middle of a major thoroughfare, and then shouted anti-government slogans.

As tensions mounted, the mainly young protesters withstood a thick cloud of tear gas to throw rocks at the ministry building on Tunis' main thoroughfare.

The scene recalled the mass protests that forced Tunisia's strongman ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee.

Tunisia has been relatively calm in the weeks since Ben Ali's ouster Jan. 14.