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After assassination, Tunisia increases security for politicians

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 13 Feb 2013 15:14 GMT
Author: Reuters
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TUNIS, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Tunisia's Interior Ministry is protecting several politicians and journalists who have received death threats, its spokesman said on Wednesday, a week after the assassination of secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid.

"The forms of protection vary between protecting homes and providing escorts and non-regular protection for others," added the spokesman, Lotfi Hidouri, without giving details.

An unidentified gunman killed Belaid outside his home last Wednesday, igniting public outrage and setting off three days of sometimes violent protests against the Islamist-led government.

Hidouri did not name the recipients of state protection or say who was behind the death threats.

Political sources said those given protection include Hamma Hammami, the leader of the same party to which Belaid belonged, and Najib Chebbi, leader of the secular Republican Party.

Belaid's assassination has fuelled fears of more violence in Tunisia, two years after a largely peaceful popular uprising overthrew veteran strongman Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali and inspired Arabs elsewhere to revolt against entrenched leaders.

No one has claimed responsibility for the killing of Belaid, an outspoken critic of Ben Ali and more recently of Tunisia's main Islamist Ennahda party. Members of his family have accused Ennahda of complicity in his death. The party denies this. (Reporting By Tarek Amara; Editing by Alistair Lyon and Kevin Liffey)

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