Tear gas fired at Tunisian protesters

Police disperse supporters of assassinated politician Mohamed Brahmi, as they call for the government to be toppled.

    Tunisian police have fired teargas on crowds as tens of thousands of citizens turned out for the funeral of assassinated secular politician Mohamed Brahmi, calling for the Islamist-led government to be toppled.

    It was an attempt by the police to disperse secular protests demanding the dissolution of the assembly and other groups defending the legitimacy of the government's rule.

    The protests continued until late on Saturday, with residents of Sidi Bouzid, Brahmi's hometown, reporting that a violent demonstration had been dispersed after protesters started hurling rocks at police.

    Earlier in the day, military helicopters hovered overhead and hundreds of troops and police lined the route of  Brahmi's funeral procession in Tunis.

    Wrapped in the red and white Tunisian flag, Brahmi's coffin left his home in the Tunis neighbourhood of Ariana en route to El-Jellaz cemetery.

    Supporters of Brahmi and members of his family took part in the procession. No representatives of the government led by the Ennahda party attended.

    Al Jazeera's Youssef Gaigi, reporting from the capital, Tunis, said people at the funeral were asking "how many people they have to lose before they have democratic state".

    "This is the second assassination and the government is under concrete pressure of the opposition," he said.

    After the funeral, thousands gathered in the streets and violence broke out in several cities.

    A bomb in a police car exploded in Tunis before the funeral but caused no casualties.

    Ennahda blamed

    Brahmi, 58, was shot dead outside his home on Thursday with the same weapon used to gun down fellow opposition politician Chokri Belaid in February, Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou said.

    He was an MP with the leftist and nationalist Popular Movement he founded but quit the party on July 7 saying it had been infiltrated by Islamists.

    Brahmi's widow Mbarka told the AFP news agency that he would be buried next to Belaid, the leftist politician assassinated in February whose funeral was attended by tens of thousands and turned into a protest against Ennahda.

    The families of both men have accused Ennahda of being implicated in the deaths, but the authorities said on Friday that the investigation pointed to individuals with links to al-Qaeda.

    The Interior Ministry accuses French-born weapons smuggler Boubakr Hakim of being the gunman.

    Brahmi's death further deepened divisions between Islamists and their secular opponents that emerged after President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in 2011 in the first of the revolutions that also felled leaders in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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