Though there were no injuries, the rare attack helped deepen the sense of unease in Tunisia, where two opposition politicians have been gunned down in the last six months, apparently by the same weapon.
Thousands joined a funeral march through Tunisia’s capital on Saturday with the body of assassinated opposition politician Mohammed Brahmi, chanting slogans in a display of the anger threatening the survival of a government once seen as a model for democracy in the region.
Adding to the tension in the North African country, a bomb exploded in the early morning underneath a car at the port in Tunis. Though there were no injuries, the rare attack helped deepen the sense of unease in Tunisia, where two opposition politicians have been gunned down in the last six months, apparently by the same weapon.
The latest assassination Thursday exacerbated the distrust between the ruling coalition led by moderate Islamists and the opposition, which has demanded the dissolution of the government because of its failures to rein in Islamist extremists, improve the economy and manage the transition to democracy.
“Down with the party of the Brotherhood,” chanted mourners following the body of Brahmi, referring to the ruling Ennahda Party’s affiliation with the regional Muslim Brotherhood religious group. “The people demand the fall of the regime.”
Brahmi’s body was taken in a military vehicle draped with a massive Tunisian flag through the city under a blazing summer sun to the Jellaz cemetery, where fellow assassinated politician Chokri Belaid was laid to rest in February.
The Interior Ministry, citing physical evidence and witnesses, said Friday that Brahmi’s assassin was Boubakr Hakim, a known militant and weapons smuggler who was part of the same al-Qaeda linked cell that murdered Belaid back in February.
The assassination has rocked the country and provoked anti-government demonstrations around the country by protesters holding the moderate Islamists elected in 2011 responsible for the lack of security in the country.
A 48-year-old political activist with the same leftist coalition as the assassinated Brahmi died Friday night after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister during a demonstration outside a police station in the southern mining town of Gafsa, said Abdessattar Ben Moussa, president of the League for Human Rights.
Protesters also clashed with police in the interior cities of Al-Kef and Sidi Bouzid.
The morning bomb blast caused no injuries and only blew out windows in the area but it represents a dangerous escalation for a country that has yet to experience serious terrorist incidents like its neighbours Algeria and Libya.
Tunisia funeral, Mohammed Brahmi death