News / Middle East

Gun in Tunisia Killing of Opposition Politician Used Before

People walk beside the ambulance carrying the body of assassinated Tunisian opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi in Tunis, July 25, 2013.
People walk beside the ambulance carrying the body of assassinated Tunisian opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi in Tunis, July 25, 2013.
Reuters
Tunisian opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi was killed with the same gun that was used to assassinate his party leader six months ago, suggesting the involvement of the same hardline Islamist group, the interior minister said on Friday.
 
The killing of Brahmi on Thursday followed the shooting of Chokri Belaid on February 6 and prompted violent protests against Tunisia's Islamist-led government and a strike call by the main trade union body.
 
Thousands of protesters massed again in the capital on Friday, while shops and banks closed their doors and all flights in and out of the country were canceled.
 
Interior minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou told a news conference in Tunis: “The same 9mm automatic weapon that killed Belaid also killed Brahmi.”
 
He named the main suspect as hardline Salafist Boubacar Hakim, already being sought on suspicion of smuggling weapons from Libya.
 
Authorities said earlier that Brahmi had been shot 14 times.
 
Protesters assembled in central Tunis, preparing to march down the capital's main boulevard as riot police deployed.
 
The demonstrators chanted: “Down with the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood,” in reference to the ruling Ennahda party, which draws inspiration from the Brotherhood, a pan-Arab Islamist movement.
 
The protest followed calls by the secular opposition for street rallies to topple the government. Islamists called for a demonstration after Friday prayers.
 
Brahmi belonged to the secular, Arab nationalist Popular Front party, formerly led by Belaid, whose killing set off the worst violence in Tunisia since President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in 2011 in the first of the Arab Spring revolutions.
 
Brahmi, 58, was a critic of the Ennahda-led ruling coalition and a member of the Constituent Assembly that has drafted a new constitution for the North African nation of 11 million.
 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned what she called the “cowardly assassination” of Brahmi and demanded that his and Belaid's killers be swiftly brought to justice.
 
Shops and banks were shuttered in anticipation of violence on Friday. All flights were canceled because of a strike, the civil aviation office said.
 
The Tunis stock exchange fell by 1.9 percent on Friday morning.
 
Arab world
 
Divisions between Islamists and their secular opponents have deepened since the popular uprising against Ben Ali, which unleashed unrest across the Arab world, unseating rulers in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and leading to civil war in Syria.
 
Brahmi's family said his funeral would take place on Saturday and he would be buried near the tomb of Belaid.
 
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki asked the army to organize a state funeral for Brahmi.
 
The government announced a day of national mourning on Friday, and radio stations broadcast patriotic songs.
 
Secularist called for the dissolution of the government and the formation of a national salvation administration, which was rejected by Prime Minister Ali Larayedh.
 
In Tunis late on Thursday, riot police fired tear gas in front of the interior ministry to disperse protesters, a Reuters witness said.
 
Similar demonstrations erupted in the cities of Sfax and Kef and in the southern town of Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of the Tunisian revolution, where protesters set fire to two Ennahda party offices.
 
Tunisia's political transition since the revolt that toppled Ben Ali has been relatively peaceful, with the moderate Islamist Ennahda party sharing power with smaller secular parties.
 
But the government has struggled to revive the economy and has come under fire from secularists who accuse it of failing to curb the activities of Salafi Islamists.
 
The Egyptian army's overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on July 3 following mass protests against him has further energized the anti-Islamist opposition in Tunisia.
 
Rached Ghannouchi, the Ennahda party leader, said the attack on Brahmi was aimed at “halting Tunisia's democratic process and killing the only successful model in the region, especially after the violence in Egypt, Syria and Libya”.
 
“Tunisia will not follow the Egyptian scenario,” he told Reuters. “We will hold on.”
 
The assassination occurred as the country prepares to vote in the next few weeks on the new constitution before a presidential election later in the year.
 
The turmoil dealt another blow to efforts to revive Tunisia's vital tourism industry. Cultural events, including the Carthage Festival, were suspended following Brahmi's killing.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid