Killing of Tunisian Opposition Figure Sets Off Protests
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Source: NY TIMES
TUNIS — A leading Tunisian opposition politician who had fiercely criticized the Islamist-led government, accusing it of turning a blind eye to violence by religious hard-liners, was fatally shot outside his home in Tunis on Wednesday, officials said.
The politician, Chokri Belaid, a leading member of a leftist opposition alliance formed in October, was shot by an unknown gunman or gunmen just as he was leaving his house in Tunis, Tunisia’s capital, the state news agency TAP said. A colleague in Mr. Belaid’s opposition alliance told Reuters that he was killed with four bullets to the head and chest.
Thousands of protesters angered by the killing marched in the capital and other Tunisian cities. The country’s president, Moncef Marzouki, cut short an overseas trip to deal with the crisis. The prime minister, Hamadi Jebali, called the killing “a political assassination and the assassination of the Tunisian revolution,” according to Reuters.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killing, which appeared to represent a dangerous new phase in Tunisia’s troubled transition to democracy. Since becoming the first Arab country to overthrow its leader after the start of the Arab uprisings in 2011, Tunisia has been torn between its legacy as a bastion for Arab secularism, and its new role, as a proving ground for the region’s emerging democracies in which Islamists play a leading role.
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