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Death of Tunisia opposition party official an 'assassination'

TUNIS -- Opposition leader and former premier Beji Caid Essebsi on Friday branded the death of a senior party official during violence in southern Tunisia the “first political assassination since the revolution.”

“It is the first political assassination since the revolution and it affects our party, the Call of Tunisia,” the staunch opponent of the ruling Islamist party Ennahda said in a statement to radio Mosaique FM, referring to the death of Lotfi Naguedh.

Essebsi blamed Thursday's protest in the southern town of Tataouine that degenerated into violence on Ennahda and its ally in the ruling coalition, the Congress for the Republic party of President Moncef Marzouki.

At a press conference later, Essebsi referred to a “lynching,” and played a video purporting to show the local party coordinator Naguedh being dragged along the ground and beaten by the crowd.

Naguedh's body was taken to Tunis on Friday for an autopsy, he said.

The interior ministry said Naguedh had died of a heart attack, but party officials say he died after being beaten by protesters from the League for the Protection of the Revolution, a grouping close to Ennahda, who attacked his office.

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