Tunisia shocked by assassinations: Opposition leaders Mohamed Brahmi and Chokri Belaid killed with the same gun

The Interior Ministry says a Jihadi cell is to blame

Tunisia's assassinated opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi was killed by the same group - and the same gun - as killed his fellow leftist Chokri Belaid five months ago, according to the nation's embattled government.

Interior Minister Loutfi Ben Jeddou said the two men were killed by a jihadi cell of 14 - four of whom were in custody - and that the 9mm bullets used in the attacks came from the same semi-automatic handgun.

He alleged that the gunman is Boubakr Hakim, a 30-year-old French-born weapons smuggler, who he said was known for jihadi sympathies. He added that police recently searched Hakim's home and found another handgun, explosives and 90 rounds of ammunition.

Mr Brahmi, the leader of the opposition Popular Movement party, was gunned down outside his home in front of his wife and youngest daughter on Thursday.

He was a member of the National Constituent Assembly, which is drafting the country's new constitution. His party is a member of the left-leaning Popular Front coalition, to which Mr Belaid also belonged.

Thousands took to the streets in protests across the country after the news broke. Police used tear gas to disperse the protests in central Tunis and in the provinces. Unions called a general strike and further protests for today, with banks and shops shuttered up and all flights in and out of Tunisia cancelled.

Many, including Brahmi's wife, blame the governing Ennahda party for the killing, either because the Islamists have been unable to ensure security in the country or because they are actively collaborating with extremist elements to target their opponents.

Ennahda condemned the assassination as a "cowardly" act "targeting the revolution and national unity, and obstructing the democratic transition process."

Brahmi's funeral, initially planned for today, was postponed until Saturday for fear it could inflame tensions. His family said he will be buried in the same Tunis cemetery at Belaid.

Mr Brahmi was a vocal critic of Ennahda, a moderate Islamist party which became part of the government following the overthrow of former leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, during the early stages of the uprisings which swept North Africa and the Middle East that year.

Divisions between Islamists and their secular opponents have deepened since then.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living