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Tunisia says killer of opposition leader identified, but at large

February 26, 2013|By Emily Alpert
  • Newly appointed Tunisian Prime Minister Ali Larayedh addresses reporters in Tunis.
Newly appointed Tunisian Prime Minister Ali Larayedh addresses reporters… (Hassene Dridi / Associated…)

Tunisian officials believe they now know who killed opposition leader Chokri Belaid, after four other suspects were arrested in connection with his slaying, news agencies reported Tuesday.

The assassination of Belaid triggered massive protests in Tunisia this month, underscoring the divisions that still rack the country in the aftermath of its so-called Arab Spring revolution. The leftist politician had warned before he was slain that the leading Nahda party and its backers were planning a wave of political killings, an accusation the party of moderate Islamists denies.

The uproar over Belaid's death threw Tunisia into turmoil and led to the resignation of the prime minister, who stepped down after he failed to convince other Nahda members to remake the government in a bid to quell tensions. Protests broke out again Sunday as infuriated demonstrators complained that Belaid’s killer remained at large.

Interior Minister Ali Larayedh told reporters on Tuesday that four people from a religious fundamentalist group had been arrested as a result of their investigation, including one who said he “escorted the murderer to the scene of the crime,” the Tunisian News Agency reported. Other suspects were said to have checked out the assassination site in the days before the killing.

Larayedh, recently tapped as the new prime minister, said police were now hunting the purported killer, but would provide little more information about the case.

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