A leading member of the Tunisian opposition Popular Front (Jebha Chaabiyya) party, Chokri Belaid, was shot dead outside his home on Wednesday. He was hit by four bullets in his head and chest and was declared dead upon arrival in the hospital.
Prime minister Hamadi Jebali called the murder 'a political assassination and the assassination of the Tunisian revolution'. ''By killing him they wanted to silence his voice," said Jebali, who heads the government led by the Ennahda party, which won Tunisia's first post-Arab Spring election in 2011. Jebali said the identity of the killer was unknown.
President Moncef Marzouki cut short a visit to France and canceled a visit to Egypt scheduled for Thursday after the killing, which brought around 1,000 protesters onto the streets outside the Interior Ministry.
Ennahda won 42 percent of seats in the first post-Arab Spring elections in October 2011 and formed a government in coalition with two secular parties, President Moncef Marzouki's Congress for the Republic and Ettakatol. Belaid was a staunch opponent of the 'moderate islamist' government. Leftist and secular opponents of the governing parties have complained many times in the past months about harassments by islamists.