Tunisia assassination: Protests erupt after politician shot 11 times

A Tunisian reacts outside Mahmoud Materi hospital Thursday following the death of opposition politician Mohammed Brahmi.
(Amine Landoulsi / Associated Press)

TUNIS, Tunisia -- Thousands of protesters gathered in Tunisia’s capital and other cities Thursday following the assassination of a top opposition politician, many of them chanting: “Down with the rule of Islamists.”

The headquarters of Nahda, the dominant Islamist party, and the municipal building in Sidi Bouzid were set on fire. Civil rights groups called for an investigation into the killing and warned the nation’s democratic transition was in danger.

Mohammed Brahmi, a leading nationalist and member of Parliament, was shot 11 times in front of his wife and daughter by gunmen on a motorbike, according to media reports. Brahmi served on the contentious panel that wrote Tunisia’s proposed constitution.


It was the second assassination this year of an opposition figure.

“Little has been done by the authorities to ensure that reported attacks against members of the opposition are adequately investigated and those responsible are brought to justice, fueling a climate of impunity and increasing political polarization,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy Middle East and North Africa program director at Amnesty International.

Nahda condemned “this cowardly and despicable crime” and urged the government to “arrest those who committed this crime and reveal those behind them who have targeted the stability of the country.”

Brahmi’s death follows the assassination in February of Chokri Belaid, a passionate leftist and frequent critic of the country’s dominant Islamist party, Nahda. Belaid’s slaying led to days of nationwide demonstrations that threatened Tunisia’s economic stability and forced a reshuffling of the government.

No one claimed immediate responsibility for the latest attack.


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Times staff writer Fleishman reported from Cairo and special correspondent Addala from Tunis.

Twitter: @jeffreyLAT