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Killing of Tunisian Opposition Figure Angers Nation

Thousands of people took to Tunisia's streets Wednesday to protest the shooting death of a leading opposition figure, amid fears that radicals are threatening to derail the country's democratic transition.

News reports say protesters jammed the main Habib Bourguiba boulevard in downtown Tunis, yelling "shame, shame" as they denounced the killing of leftist politician Chokri Belaid.

Other demonstrations are being staged in towns around Tunisia, in scenes reminiscent of the country's largely peaceful revolution two years ago.

One of the leaders of the opposition Popular Front, Belaid was shot dead outside his Tunis home just hours before. His killing has sparked shock and outrage - and fears that religious extremists are trying to hijack Tunisia's transition to democracy.



Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki canceled his planned trip to a summit in Cairo because of the killing.

Speaking before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Mr. Marzouki said his country has many enemies who want the revolution to fail. He denounced the "odious assassination" of Belaid, who he described as an old friend. He said Tunisia would reject the message sent by what he called the "enemies of the revolution."

An array of politicians have similarly denounced Belaid's death, including the ruling Islamist Ennahda Party. The party chief, Rached Ghannouchi, condemned the murder, saying the killers wanted a "bloodbath" in Tunisia.

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