Chokri Belaid, a Tunisian opposition leader who was critical of the Islamist-led government and of violence by radical Muslims was shot dead, according to the government.
UPDATE: Jihadist government in Tunisia dissolved after critic's killing causes fury
On February 6, 2013, Tunisians lost one of the leaders of the Tunisian Jasmine Revolution, when Tunisian secular and leftist opposition leader Chokri Belaid was gunned down in front of his home in El Menzah VI, a residential neighborhood in the capital Tunis.
Belaid was coordinator of the left-wing Tunisian Democratic Patriots' Movement, a political party that was established in 1981 but legalized only in 2011 following the Tunisian Revolution. He was a prominent critic of the El-Nahda party, which won a relative majority in the Tunisian elections in 2011, and of the rise of Salafist movements in the country. (MEMRI)Tunisia Assassination Upends Government Wall Street Journal, February 7, 2012Opposition Leader Shot Amid Standoff Between Islamists, Secularists; Widespread Protests Pressure Prime MinisterEuropean Pressphoto Agency
People in Tunis mob an ambulance carrying the body of Chokri Belaid after his assassination Wednesday.
A leader of Tunisia's secularist opposition was shot dead outside his home in the capital, sparking broad protests and an announcement by the prime minister that he would dissolve his Islamist-led government.
Chokri Belaid, a 47-year-old outspoken critic of the government, was shot at close range as he was about to get into his car and go to work on Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Interior. It was the first political assassination in Tunisia since President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was driven from office in January 2011.
Thousands of Tunisians took to the streets in several cities after the attack. In the capital, Tunis, police used tear gas to disperse wailing demonstrators surrounding the ambulance carrying Mr. Belaid's body to the morgue. One policeman was killed during protests in Tunis, the government said.
Many protesters chanted "the people want the fall of the regime" and other slogans that echoed through Tunisia's streets during the revolution two years ago, witnesses said. This time, however, the ruling party, Ennahda, bore the brunt of the popular rage.
Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, who is from the Islamist party, said late Wednesday he would dissolve the government and form a national-unity cabinet of technocrats, in a bid to head off the deepening crisis. Some moderate members of Ennahda and many in the opposition had been calling for a unity government for months, but negotiations over its composition had gone nowhere.
It was unclear whether Mr. Jebali's pledge to form a new, more inclusive government would satisfy opposition forces who accuse his party of encouraging political violence. Opposition leaders have called for a general strike on Thursday. Some threatened to withdraw from the elected, Islamist-dominated assembly tasked with drafting Tunisia's new constitution.
TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia's ruling Islamists dissolved the government and promised rapid elections in a bid to restore calm after the killing of an opposition leader sparked the biggest street protests since the revolution two years ago. (Source: Reuters)