World Bulletin / News Desk
A Tunisian Salafist leader on Monday escaped from a mosque that had been surrounded by security forces seeking to arrest him over clashes at the U.S. Embassy last week during protests against an anti-Islam film, a Reuters witness said.
Saif-Allah Benahssine, leader of the Tunisian branch of the Ansar al-Sharia, slipped away after hundreds of his followers stormed out of al-Fatah mosque in Tunis.
A security source told Reuters Benahssine was wanted over Friday's protest in which four people were killed and 46 injured when police opened fire to quell hundreds of protesters who smashed windows, hurled petrol bombs and stones and started fires in the embassy.
On Monday, about 1,000 riot and anti-terrorist police surrounded the mosque where Benahssine, also known as Abu Iyadh, was meeting hundreds of his followers. They later retreated to 200 metres (650 feet) from the mosque for unexplained reasons, witnesses said. Interior Ministry officials could not be reached for comment.
Ansar al-Sharia has endorsed a Facebook call to protest against the short film, made in the United States and trailed online, which insults the Prophet Mohammad as a fool and a womaniser. It has triggered protests across the Muslim world.
The party Ennahda, which leads Tunisia's governing coalition, advised against joining the protests.
Catalonia police spokesman Josep Lluis Trapero added that a driver who mowed down crowds of pedestrians in the first attack in a busy Barcelona street Thursday could be among five suspects later shot dead in a nearby city.
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For his part, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told RTL radio that "the number of those who have been seriously injured may perhaps be even higher at around 17."
New York Police Department officials said the force would hold a press conference but declined to provide scheduling details.
Death toll feared to rise due to severe conditions of the many injured
The pickup truck, which had an improvised white wooden trailer constructed over the back, was transporting them in "overcrowded and unsanitary conditions," said a state police report seen by AFP.
At least 13 people were killed and more than 50 injured when a driver deliberately slammed his vehicle into crowds on Barcelona's most popular street -- Las Ramblas -- in what police qualified as a "terror attack."
The van attack that mowed down pedestrians on Barcelona's most famous street on Thursday killing at least 13 people was the latest fatal assault on a European city.
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