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Tunisian opposition figure shot; second assassination this year

July 25, 2013|By Jeffrey Fleishman and Radhouane Addala
  • Tunisians shout slogans as they protest near a hospital where opposition politician Mohammed Brahmi was taken following his assassination.
Tunisians shout slogans as they protest near a hospital where opposition… (Mohamed Messara / European…)

TUNIS, Tunisia -- A Tunisian nationalist was shot to death at his home Thursday, the second assassination this year of an opposition figure in a country strained by the conflict between Islamist and secular political forces.

Mohammed Brahmi, a member of Parliament, was shot 11 times in front of his wife and daughter by gunmen on a motorbike, according to media reports. Brahmi served on the contentious panel that wrote Tunisia’s proposed constitution.

His death follows the assassination in February of Chokri Belaid, a passionate leftist and frequent critic of the country’s dominant Islamist party, Nahda. Belaid’s slaying led to days of nationwide protests that threatened Tunisia’s economic stability and forced a reshuffling of the government.

No one claimed immediate responsibility for the latest attack, which was similar to the shooting of Belaid.

Brahmi’s death is likely to renew criticism of Nahda for not reining in Islamic extremism in this North African country, which was the birthplace of the so-called Arab Spring uprisings in 2011.

Brahmi’s son, Adnen, told a private radio station: “Nahda is responsible for the murder of my father."

The government has said that at least six extremists were behind Belaid’s slaying. Tunisian security forces have grown increasingly concerned by Islamic militants, including foreign fighters, who are operating in the provinces.

Brahmi was a member of the People Movement Party, but he left the group this month to form his own organization. His assassination came on the 56th anniversary of Tunisia’s becoming a republic after years as of French colonization.

"This was the second horrible episode of a plot in the true sense of the word, whose goal is to put the country in a critical situation," said Hamadi Jebali, a Nahda member who resigned as prime minister following Belaid’s death.

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Times staff writer Fleishman reported from Cairo and special correspondent Addala from Tunis.

jeffrey.fleishman@latimes.com

Twitter: @jeffreyLAT

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