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Scuffles amid mass turnout for Belaid funeral in Tunisia

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Scuffles amid mass turnout for Belaid funeral in Tunisia
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Thousands of mourners have turned out in a Tunis suburb for the funeral of the assassinated
opposition politician Chokri Belaid.

His supporters chanted slogans attacking the Ennahda party they blame for Wednesday’s killing, and they vowed to continue the struggle against Tunisia’s ruling Islamists.

A few scuffles ensued between groups of demonstrators and police, near the cemetery where Belaid’s funeral was taking place. Tear gas was used to disperse youths who were smashing cars.

The north African country is riven by tensions between Islamists and their secular opponents, and Belaid’s death has deepened the political chaos. No-one has claimed responsibility for the murder and Ennahda denies carrying it out.

The capital has been gripped by only the third general strike in Tunisia’s history.

Streets have been quiet, with banks, shops and offices closed in response to the unions’ call for a
stoppage in protest at the assassination.

Public transport has been greatly disrupted. Tunis-Carthage international airport has been at a standstill. Tunisia’s national airline has been grounded; officials reportedly said all departures and arrivals had been cancelled.

Hundreds of anti-riot police have been deployed in Habib Bourguiba Avenue, a flashpoint for anti-government protests in Tunis, amid fears of more violence.

Prime Minister Hamdi Jebali has promised a non-partisan technocrat government but it has done little to defuse instability and tension.