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Tunisian opposition leader assassination sparks protests

Tunisian opposition leader assassination sparks protests
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A Tunisian politician was assassinated on Wednesday sparking protests across the country.

Opposition leader Chokri Belaid was shot in the head and chest outside his home in Tunis, the identity of the attacker is as yet unknown.

Tensions have been growing between Islamists and secularists, such as Belaid, who was a staunch opponent of the moderate Islamist-led government.

As news of the killing spread over a thousand protesters took to the streets outside the interior ministry in the capital calling for the fall of the government.

More still demonstrated in Sidi Bouzid the birthplace of the Arab Spring, which toppled veteran ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. Police fired tear gas there and in Tunis in response to the protests.

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, who was on a visit to the European Parliament, condemned the killing:

“This is a heinous murder of a political leader who I know well,” he said. “Who has been my friend for a long time, Chokri Belaid.

“This is a political assassination, knowing today, at this time, they knew I would be speaking to you. It is a threat, it is a letter, but it won’t be received, we refuse, we reject this letter, we reject the message and we will continue to expose the enemies of the revolution.”

The President has cut short his visit to France and cancelled a scheduled appearance at a summit in Egypt to return home.

Belaid was a leading member of the opposition Popular Front Party and a constant critic of the government accusing it of being a puppet of Qatar.