Tunisia: 4 in custody for politician's murder

Associated Press

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia's interior minister said Tuesday that four suspects belonging to a radical Islamist group are being held for their involvement in the murder of a leftist opposition politician earlier this month that plunged the country into a political crisis.

Ali Larayedh said the suspects, some of whom had been arrested in the last 48 hours, were just accomplices to the murder and did not include the assassin himself, who remains at large and subject to a manhunt.

The suspects range in age from 26 to 34 years old and are part of a "radical religious group," the minister said, adding that one had confessed to accompanying the actual assassin.

Chokri Belaid was shot four times outside his home on the morning of February 6, provoking widespread rioting around the country as many held the government responsible for his death.

Belaid's assassination resulted in the resignation of the country's prime minister and Larayedh has been appointed his successor to form a new coalition government.

Thousands demonstrated on Sunday, protesting the lack of progress in solving the crime, which was seen as a symptom of the increasing violence in Tunisia's politics.

Since the overthrow of the country's secular dictatorship in January 2011, there has been a rise in ultraconservative Muslims known as Salafis, some of whom have resorted to violence.

Authorities have also discovered numerous weapons caches and clashed with militants crossing into the country from neighboring Algeria and Libya.

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