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Protests at Funeral for Tunisian Opposition Politician



Tunisian police fired tear gas at crowds gathered outside the national parliament building Saturday in continuing protests about the killing of a leading opposition politician.

who was gunned down on Thursday.

Protesters called for the dissolution of parliament. Elsewhere in Tunis, a smaller, rival group held a separate rally in support of the government.

The demonstrations began after the funeral of Mohamed Brahmi, a member of the secular Popular Front party who was gunned down on Thursday - shot 14 times by bullets from the same gun used to kill another opposition political leader five months ago.

Some mourners shouted anti-government slogans and waved photos of Brahmi as a military vehicle carried the slain politician's flag-draped coffin through Tunis.

Tunisian officials have blamed al-Qaida-linked extremists for killing Brahmi, who was a member of the secular Popular Front party.



Interior Minister Loutfi Ben Jeddou disclosed on Friday some details of the daytime attack against Brahmi, including investigators' finding that he was killed by the same weapon, a 9-millimeter automatic pistol, used to murder opposition figure Chokri Belaid in February.

Investigators believe the assassin in both cases was Boubakr Hakim, a weapons smuggler known to sympathize with Islamic extremists.

Many protesters have blamed Tunisia's ruling Ennahda party for the assassination. They contend the moderate Islamist party has not done enough to cut off funding or support for extremist groups.

Brahmi was a vocal critic of the government but also involved in efforts to draw up a new national constitution. Following his death, a spokesman for Tunisia's Popular Front group, Hamma Hammami, said the party is considering launching an alternative government.

Tunisia was the first country swept by the "Arab Spring" popular uprisings in early 2011. Mass demonstrations against the former government led to the ouster of the north African nation's autocratic president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

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