Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Tunisia identifies Belaid's assassin, arrests four 'accomplices'

Authorities say the killer is on the run after they arrest his suspected accomplices who are members of a 'radical religious group'.

TUNIS // The suspected murderer of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid has been identified and is on run but four of his accomplices have been arrested, the interior minister said today.

"The killer has been identified and is being chased," Ali Larayedh told a news conference.

"Four other suspects have been arrested. They belong to a radical religious" group, said Mr Larayedh, who is also prime-minister designate tasked with forming a new government.

Belaid's daylight killing on February 6 sparked deadly street protests and strikes and exposed the widening fissures between the ruling Islamists and liberals.

It also threw Tunisia into its worst political crisis since the revolution two years ago that ousted former strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Mr Larayedh said the four people arrested had "monitored [Belaid] for some time".

One of the suspects, he added, "confessed to having accompanied the killer on the day of the crime".

Police sources had said that those behind the killing were ultraconservative Salafis.

Salafis have been blamed for several violent actions in Tunisia over the past months, including an attack on the US embassy last September that left four attackers dead.

Mr Larayedh declined to comment on who may have ordered the killing, even as Belaid's widow urged authorities to get to flush out those responsible.

"It is good to know who carried it out, but for me it is very important to know who ordered it ... because this was a very well-organised crime," Basma Khalfaoui told France's Europe 1 radio during a visit to Paris today.

"We are asking for a trial, for further investigation, for everything to be known," she said.

Belaid's brother, Abdelmajid, accuses the ruling Islamist Ennahda party of being behind the murder.

"It's Ennahda which gave the green light to kill my brother," he said, but Ms Khalfaoui was more cautious, saying only that "Ennahda's political leadership is involved".

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen. AFP Photo

The inner workings of Gulen’s ‘parallel state’

Fethullah Gulen's followers are accused of trying to push Turkey's prime minister from power.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National