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Tunisia faces street protests

Shops and banks in Tunisia were closed and all flights cancelled on Friday as the country braced for more street violence a day after the assassination of an opposition politician. Mohamed Brahmi was shot dead on Thursday in the second such political killing this year, which prompted violent protests against the government in the capital and other cities and a strike call by the main trade union body. Tunisians were prepared for another difficult day after the secular opposition called for street rallies to topple the government led by the Ennahda Party. Islamists called for a demonstration after Friday prayers. Brahmi belonged to the secular, Arab nationalist Popular Front party, whose then-leader, Chokri Belaid, was shot dead on February 6. Belaid's killing set off the worst violence in Tunisia since President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fell in 2011 in the first of the Arab Spring revolutions. Brahmi, 58, was a critic of the Ennahda-led ruling coalition and a member of the Constituent Assembly that has drafted a new constitution for the North African nation of 11 million.

Shops and banks were shuttered in anticipation of violence on Friday. All flights were cancelled because of a strike called by the main labour organisation, the civil aviation office said.

Divisions between Islamists and their secular opponents have deepened since the popular uprising against Ben Ali, which unleashed unrest across the Arab world, unseating rulers in Egypt, Libya andYemen, and leading to civil war in Syria.

Brahmi's family said his funeral would take place on Saturday and he would be buried near the tomb of Belaid.

Secularist called for the dissolution of the government and the formation of a national salvation administration, which was rejected by Prime Minister Ali Larayedh.

In Tunis late on Thursday, riot police fired tear gas in front of the Interior Ministry to disperse protesters, a Reuters witness said.

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