Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tunisian opposition leader shot dead

A Tunisian opposition party leader who had been critical of the Islamist-led government and violence by radical Muslims has been shot dead, leading to anti-government riots that left downtown Tunis choked with teargas and patrolled by a tank and armoured cars.

Chokri Belaid, leader of the Unified Democratic Nationalist party, was shot outside his home in the capital by a man who fled on a motorcycle on Wednesday morning. He died in hospital shortly afterwards.

The president, Moncef Marzouki, responded by cutting short a visit to France and cancelling a trip to Egypt scheduled for Thursday, and Reuters reported on Wednesday night that he would dissolve the government and try to form a government of national unity.

The killing triggered a 1,000-strong protest outside the interior ministry. Police used teargas to disperse the protesters, who were gathered on the same broad, tree-lined boulevard where two years ago anti-government protests led to the fall of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's longtime dictator.


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