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Thousands turn out for funeral of slain Tunisian MP

© AFP

Video by Siobhán SILKE

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2013-07-27

Vast crowds calling for the toppling of Tunisia’s Islamist government turned out in the capital on Saturday for the funeral of assassinated secular MP Mohamed Brahmi. Hours earlier, a bomb exploded outside a police station in a suburb of Tunis.

Tens of thousands of Tunisians, many calling for the toppling of the country’s Islamist-led government, turned out for the funeral of assassinated secularist politician Mohamed Brahmi in the capital Tunis on Saturday.

Brahmi, a leftist MP and outspoken critic of the ruling Islamist Ennahda party, was gunned down outside his home in Tunis on Thursday.

The killing, which has sparked anti-government protests across Tunisia and plunged the country into political chaos, came just five months after the similar assassination of another secular oppostion leader, Chokri Belaid, who was shot dead in February.

Brahmi’s body was taken in a military vehicle draped with a massive Tunisian flag through the city, with hundreds of troops and police lining the route to hold back the protesters.

“The people want to topple the regime!” people in the crowd shouted as the funeral procession passed and military helicopters hovered overhead.

“Ghannouchi, assassin, criminal,” others chanted, referring to Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Ennahda party that Brahmi’s family says was behind the killing.

After the procession arrived at the Al Jalez cemetery in central Tunis, where Belaid’s tomb is also located, army chief of staff General Mohamed Salah Hamdi read an eulogy and an imam led prayers.

Brahmi’s coffin was then lowered into a grave next to that of Belaid, in accordance with his wishes.

Mourners carried portraits of both slain politicians.

Bomb explodes hours before funeral

Just a few hours earlier, a bomb planted under a car exploded outside a police station in a suburb of Tunis, wounding a police officer, according to local media reports.

The blast struck at around 5:45am local time at Tunis’ La Goulette port, according to an eyewitness and reports from the local Express FM and Shems FM radio stations.

An unmarked police car was also said to have been destroyed by the blast.

The explosion added to what is already an incredibly tense situation in Tunisia, with many blaming the government for both assassinations and a general lack of security in the country.

Friday saw thousands take to the streets of Tunis and other cities around the country in a second consecutive night of protest. One protester in the central city of Gafsa died after reportedly being struck on the head by a teargas canister fired by police.

Meanwhile, the government has blamed Brahmi’s assassination, as with Belaid’s, on members of the extremist Salafist movement.

Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou announced Friday that ballistic examinations showed the same gun was used in both murders.

He named Salafist member Boubaker Hakim, a French-born longtime jihadist who fought in Iraq, as the main suspect in the Brahmi shooting.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-07-27

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