Tunisia MP ‘killed with same gun as in Belaid slaying’
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Tunisian MP Mohamed Brahmi, shot dead Thursday, was killed with the same gun used in the slaying of opposition leader Chokri Belaid in February, Tunisia’s interior minister said Friday. He blamed the radical Salafist movement for the killing.
The weapon used in the assassination of Tunisian leftist MP Mohamed Brahmi was the same used in the slaying of another opposition leader five months ago, the country’s Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou announced Friday.
A ballistic examination of the bullets fired at Brahmi showed that they came from the same gun used in the February shooting of Chokri Belaid, who at the time was leader of the left-secular Democratic Patriots' Movement party, Jeddou told a press conference.
He pointed the finger of blame for Brahmi’s assassination at the radical Sunni Muslim Salafist movement, which has also been accused of being behind the killing of Belaid.
"The first elements of the investigation show the implication of Boubaker Hakim, a Salafist extremist," said Jeddou.
Family witnessed assassination
Brahmi was gunned down in front of his family as he was getting into his car outside his home on Thursday.
Speaking to the AFP news agency, Balkis Brahmi, 19, one of his five children, said her father was killed by two men in black on a motorbike.
"At around midday, we heard gunfire and my father crying with pain. We rushed out - my brother, mother and I - to find his body riddled with bullets at the wheel of his car parked in front of the house," she said.
"Despite the horror of it all, I spotted two men fleeing on a scooter, in black T-shirts and wearing helmets, one red and the other beige.”
Like Belaid, Brahmi was a vocal critic of the ruling coalition led by the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, which has been forced to deny accusations from Brahmi’s family that it was behind the killing.
He was also a member of the Constituent Assembly charged with drafting a new constitution for the North African nation, which is split between Islamists and their opponents.
Tunisia braced for violence as general strike called
The assassination has plunged the country into a political crisis, with the opposition calling for the dissolution of the government.
Several thousand Islamists took to the streets of Tunis on Friday to defend the Islamist-led government from popular demands for it to resign over the assassination of a secular opposition politician.
Thousands of anti-government protesters also massed in the capital on Friday, while shops and banks closed their doors and all flights in and out of the country were cancelled.
Angry protestors took to the streets of Tunis and the southern town of Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of the Tunisian revolution, after news of the killing broke on Thursday.
And on Friday the country was braced for fresh violence after The General Union of Tunisian Labour (UGTT) called for a general strike in protest at "terrorism, violence and murders".
Tunis was brought to a near standstill as shops and banks closed, while National airline Tunisair and European airlines cancelled flights to and from the city.
Political tension has been rising in Tunisia since the founding of the country's own version of the Tamarod (Arabic for rebellion) anti-government movement that led to the ouster of Egypt’s Islamist president Mohammed Morsi on July 3.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)