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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs