Clashes mar Tunisia funeral

Violence erupted near the cemetery as police fired teargas at demonstrators who threw stones and set cars ablaze.

Clashes mar Tunisia funeral

World Bulletin / News Desk

Police and mourners clashed at the mass funeral on Friday of secular opposition politician Chokri Belaid, whose assassination has plunged Tunisia deeper into political crisis.

Braving chilly rain, at least 50,000 people turned out to honour Belaid in his home district of Jebel al-Jaloud in the capital, chanting anti-Ennahda and anti-government slogans.

Violence erupted near the cemetery as police fired teargas at demonstrators who threw stones and set cars ablaze. Police also used teargas against protesters near the Interior Ministry, a frequent flashpoint for clashes in the Tunisian capital.

Tunisia, cradle of the Arab uprisings, is riven by tensions between dominant Islamists and their secular opponents, and by frustration at the lack of social and economic progress since President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in January 2011.

Belaid's assassination has shocked a country which had hitherto experienced a relatively peaceful political transition.

Crowds surged around an open army truck carrying Belaid's coffin, draped in a red and white Tunisian flag, from a cultural centre in Jebel al-Jaloud towards the leafy Jallaz cemetery, as a security forces helicopter flew overhead.

Police fired teargas to disperse anti-government protesters throwing stones and petrol bombs in the southern mining town of Gafsa, a stronghold of support for Belaid, witnesses said.

"Ennahda officies attacked"

In Sidi Bouzid, the southern town where the revolt against the ousted strongman began, about 10,000 marched to mourn Belaid and shout slogans against Ennahda and the government.

Banks, factories and some shops were closed in Tunis and other cities in response to a strike called by unions in protest at Belaid's killing, but buses were running normally.

Tunis Air suspended all its flights because of the strikes, a spokesman for the national airline said. Airport sources in Cairo said EgyptAir had cancelled two flights to Tunisia after staff at Tunis airport joined the general strike.

After Belaid's assassination, Prime Minister Hamdi Jebali, an Islamist, said he would dissolve the government and form a cabinet of technocrats to rule until elections could be held.

But his own Ennahda party and its secular coalition partners complained they had not been consulted, casting doubt over the status of the government and compounding political uncertainty.

No one has claimed responsibility for the killing of Belaid, a lawyer and secular opposition figure.

His family have blamed Ennahda but the party has denied any hand in the shooting. Crowds have attacked several Ennahda party offices in Tunis and other cities in the past two days.

Last Mod: 08 Şubat 2013, 17:57
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