Police arrested the regional president of the Committee for the Protection of the Revolution and seven others yesterday in connection with violent protests last month in Tataouine, according to state news agency TAP.
The arrests were the first government action since the clashes on October 18 that resulted in the death of Lotfi Naguedh, the regional coordinator for the opposition Nidaa Tounes party, and sparked fears of continued political violence.
The protests last month took a turn for the worse when demonstrators from the Committee for the Protection of the Revolution, an unofficial network that supports the ruling Ennahdha party and aims to root out members of the former regime, clashed with employees from the Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fishing (UTAP).
UTAP employees brandished sharp objects and Molotov cocktails when the protesters arrived at the gates, according to Jawhara Tiss, a Constituent Assembly member affiliated with Ennahdha representing Tataouine.
Several people were injured, and Naghuedh died in the ensuing skirmishes before police intervened.
The official coroner’s report states that Naghuedh died from a heart attack he suffered during the clashes.
Nidaa Tounes members dispute the report, claiming that the regional coordinator was killed by protesters. At the time of the attack, Taieb Baccouch, a member of the political bureau of Nidaa Tounes, claimed that party members knew exactly who killed Naghuedh.
The attack occured five days before the one year anniversary of Tunisia’s first free and democratic elections.