First Assassination Since Arab Spring Rattles Tunisia

Opposition leader Chokri Belaid shot outside home
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 6, 2013 6:53 AM CST
In this Dec.29, 2010 file photo, Tunisian lawyer Chokri Belaid attends a press conference at the lawyers' Bar in Tunis.   (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi, File)

(Newser) – A Tunisian opposition leader was shot and killed outside his home today, in the nation's first assassination since the Arab Spring. Chokri Belaid, among the leaders of the leftist Popular Front coalition, was outspoken against the Ennahda party, which leads the country as part of a three-party coalition, the New York Times notes. He had received multiple death threats. Outside the interior ministry, some 1,000 people protested his killing, which rattles a country considered exemplary in the Arab Spring, the AP reports.

The attack boosts already-climbing tensions in Tunisia. The secular Belaid had frequently criticized the moderate Islamist Ennahda, arguing that officials were soft on ultraconservative violence. His killer remains unidentified. "The murder of Belaid is a political assassination and the assassination of the Tunisian revolution," said Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, per Reuters. President Moncef Marzouki, meanwhile, is set to make a quick return from a trip to France, where President Francois Hollande voiced concern over mounting violence, Reuters adds. "This murder deprives Tunisia of one of its most courageous and free voices," he said in a statement. (Read more Tunisia stories.)

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