Africa

2 police officers wounded in Tunisia

nushi20130221234915393Two Tunisian police have been wounded in an exchange of gunfire with heavily armed men in the city of Sidi Bouzid, a medical source says.

The shooting occurred on Thursday when the four men refused a police order to stop their car in the center of the city, AFP reported.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry issued a statement saying the Tunisian National Guard backed by a commando unit seized large quantities of weapons and explosives in the town of Mnihla, around 15 kilometers (10 miles) outside the capital Tunis late Wednesday night.

Tunisia plunged into a political chaos after leftist opposition leader Shokri Belaid was fatally shot outside his home in the capital Tunis on February 6.

Belaid’s assassination triggered violent demonstrations across the North African country, with the headquarters of the ruling Ennahda party being attacked in more than a dozen cities.

On February 9, the ministry issued a statement saying that at least one Tunisian policeman was killed and 59 others wounded during unrest sparked by the murder of Belaid. Some 375 people were also arrested, the statement added.

On Tuesday, Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali resigned after failing to get the country out of the political crisis by forming a new government.

Opposition groups have accused Ennahda of being behind the assassination. However, the party’s leader, Rashid al-Ghannouchi, condemned the deadly assault and rejected the allegation.

Political analysts believe the assassination was carried out to discredit Tunisia’s Islamist movement and to prevent the formulation of the country’s constitution according to Islamic law.

In January 2011, the country’s Western-backed dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled Tunisia to Saudi Arabia, after weeks of bloody protests over corruption, unemployment, and high food prices.

Tunisia’s first freely elected government was sworn in December 2011, a year after the start of a popular uprising that ended the 23-year authoritarian rule of Ben Ali.

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