Feb 6, 2013 / 6:29 am
A Tunisian opposition leader critical of the Islamist-led government and violence by radical Muslims was shot dead Wednesday, according to the government. The killing is likely to heighten tensions in a country whose path from dictatorship to democracy has been seen as a model for the Arab world.
The secretary general of the Unified Democratic Nationalist Party, Chokri Belaid, was shot as he left his house in the capital, Tunis, the state news agency TAP reported. It said he was taken to a nearby clinic and died.
Government spokesman Samir Dilou called the attack against Belaid an "odious crime." The Interior Ministry gave no immediate details about the attack.
The reason for the killing is unclear. It comes as Tunisia is struggling to maintain stability and revive its economy after its longtime dictator was overthrown in an uprising two years ago. That revolution set off revolts across the Arab world and unleashed new social and religious tensions.
Belaid had been critical of Tunisia's leadership, especially the moderate Islamist party Ennahda that dominates the government.
He had accused authorities of not doing enough to stop violence by ultraconservatives who have targeted mausoleums, art exhibits and other things seen as out of keeping with their strict interpretation of Islam. Radicals disrupted a recent rally Belaid led in northern Tunisia.
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