Tunisia Posts Photos of Assassination Suspects

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) - Tunisia's Interior Ministry posted on its Facebook page Saturday the photos and names of five suspects in February's assassination of a leftist politician.

The murder of Chokri Belaid plunged the country into crisis, unleashed mass demonstrations and prompted the prime minister to dissolve the government and resign. The new prime minister, Ali Larayedh, said in February that four suspects from an ultraconservative Islamic group were already in custody, but the killer was still at large.

The five new suspects pictured now range in age from 30 to 46 and one bears the full beard of a religious conservative. An additional photo showing that suspect shaved is included. The message with the photos includes a hotline to call and promises anonymity to anyone providing with information as to their whereabouts.

While the posting said the men pictured included the main suspect, it does not say which one it was.

Belaid was shot four times as he got in his car outside his house on Feb. 6. It shocked the country, and many blamed the Islamist-led governing coalition, unleashing days of protests.

Larayedh did not identify the group he was holding responsible for the assassination, but denied there were any foreign links to the killing.

Since the overthrow of Tunisia's secular dictatorship in January 2011, there has been a rise in ultraconservative Muslims known as Salafis, some of whom have resorted to violence. On Sept. 14, a group of Salafis attacked the U.S. Embassy and damaged the surroundings. Tunisia's government has blamed the radical Islamic group Ansar al-Shariah for that attack and said it is trying to track down its leader.

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