Tunisian opposition figure Shokri Belaid has been shot dead outside his home, prompting the over 1,000 Tunisians to protest in front of the Interior Ministry. Cries of “Shame, shame Shokri died” and “The government should fall” have been heard.
The streets are now packed, according to eyewitness accounts. Security forces cordoned off the area.
Shokri Belaid had recently formed a coalition in opposition against the Islamist-led government, leading Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali to condemn the suspected politically-motivated assassination. Jebali labeled his death “the assassination of the Tunisian revolution,” adding that, “by killing him they wanted to silence his voice.”
Tunisia’s president has cut short a foreign visit following the news.
Belaid, who was leader of Tunisia’s Democratic Patriotic Party, was killed as he was leaving his house in Tunis, the country’s capital. He took four bullets to his head and chest. Belaid had reportedly received recent death threats, according to the Paris-based France 24 TV channel. “Three men in a black vehicle” had been present at the scene, said France 24TV.
Belaid has recently been speaking out against alleged attacks by the Islamists against the party’s members, later stating that, “a group of Ennahda mercenaries and Salafists attacked our activists.” The attacks occurred as a party meeting drew to a close last Saturday.
Two years ago Tunisia was the first country to overthrow its leader, following uprisings throughout the country, in what came to be known as the Arab Spring. The country has faced some social and religious uncertainty following the introduction of subsequent free elections, yet has managed a smooth transition to democracy up until this point.
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