Tunisian police shoot dead Islamist militant as rallies continue

Tunisian police shoot dead Islamist militant as rallies continue

TUNIS - Reuters
Tunisian police shoot dead Islamist militant as rallies continue

Tunisian supporters of ruling Islamist Ennahdha party chant slogans on August 3, 2013 in Tunis in solidarity with the government. AFP PHOTO/FETHI BELAID

Tunisian police shot dead an Islamist militant and arrested five others on Sunday during a raid on a house in the Kabaria district of the capital Tunis, an official told Reuters.

"The police killed a terrorist and arrested five others in a house in Kabaria where they were hiding weapons," said Lotfi Hidouri, an official at the interior ministry.

Tens of thousands of Tunisians came out in a show of force for the country's Islamist-led government on Saturday, in one of the largest demonstrations since the 2011 revolution.

Supporters of the ruling Ennahda party crowded into Kasbah Square next to the prime minister's office in the capital, Tunis. Ennahda officials said more than 150,000 attended. Fireworks flashed overhead and red Tunisian flags fluttered over a sea of demonstrators.

"No to coups, yes to elections," the crowd shouted, in a reference to the army-backed ouster of Egypt's elected Islamist president last month.

The secular opposition is stepping up efforts to oust the transition government in the North African country. At the same time, security forces are struggling to fight off a spike in attacks by radical Islamist militants, whom the moderate Islamist Ennahda has condemned as terrorists.

Man blows himself up while making a bomb

Tunisian authorities say a suspected religious extremist blew himself up while making a bomb in a home he was renting near the capital, The Associated Press has reported.

In a statement Saturday, Tunisia's interior ministry says anti-terrorist police are still working to identify the man. His pregnant wife was seriously wounded in the Friday blast, which took place in Jedaida, about 20 kilometers from Tunis.

Separately, the interior ministry says an "extremist" was arrested on Friday after he blew off his hand while handling explosives in Menzel Bourguiba, 43 miles from Tunis.

The country, once considered a model among fledgling "Arab Spring" democracies, is facing its worst crisis since Tunisians toppled autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and set off a wave of uprisings across the region.
The opposition, angered by the assassination of two of its figures and emboldened by the backlash against deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, has been protesting daily.

Across the capital, around 10,000 opposition protesters rallied against the government. They vowed a mass march on Sunday and an even bigger rally on Wednesday to mark the death of politician Chokri Belaid, who was gunned down six months ago.