Tunisia police launch manhunt for politician's killer

Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:05am EST
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By Tarek Amara

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian police have identified the killer of opposition leader Chokri Belaid as a member of a radical Islamist Salafi group who is on the run, Prime Minister-designate Ali Larayedh said on Tuesday.

Larayedh, who remains Interior Minister until his government is formed, told a news conference police had arrested four accomplices who are also ultra-orthodox Salafis.

The assassination of secular politician Belaid on February 6 provoked the biggest street protests in Tunisia since the overthrow of strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali two years ago.

A security source said on Monday a Salafi had been arrested in connection with the killing, while Tunisia's Express FM radio cited a senior security official as saying police had arrested three Salafis, including a police officer, over the murder.

"Now we have identified the killer of Belaid and he is on the run. The police are looking for him," Larayedh said.

One of the arrested suspects had accompanied the gunman who shot Belaid outside his home before escaping on a motorcycle, he said, adding that the group had mounted surveillance of Belaid's home and a nearby square for several days before the attack.

Hundreds of bystanders watched on Tuesday as two of the detained suspects re-enacted the shooting at the scene amid a heavy security presence, local media said.

The Interior Minister did not confirm the Express FM report that one of those detained was a police officer.   Continued...

Tunisia's Prime Minister-designate Ali Larayedh speaks during a news conference in Tunis February 26, 2013. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi