Mohamed Mofti, an active member of the opposition party the Popular Front, was killed yesterday during a demonstration in Gafsa, a city in southern Tunisia, after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister fired from police.
The protest came in reaction to Mohamed Brahmi’s assassination on Thursday. Brahmi was a member of the National Constituent Assembly and the opposition party The People's Movement, which is part of the Popular Front.
The protest started as a march from Chokri Belaid square to the regional UGTT headquarters, crossing Gafsa’s main streets, according to Ammar Amrousiya of the Popular Front. Protesters demanded the dissolution of the NCA and the ouster of the current government.
The crowds were indeed angry but showed no signs of violence, the protest was pacifist and we were shocked by the police reinforcements everywhere who blocked exits and started shooting tear gas,” Amrousiya said. [display_posts type=”related” limit=”3″ position=”right”]
He said Mofti was an independent, leftist activist before joining the Popular Front and described him as “a brave man.” Adding that “people in Gafsa are really upset about his death.”
“The attack was sudden and it led to a fast death.”
Similar protests have occurred around the country. In Tunis and Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia Live has confirmed use of tear gas to disperse crowds.
The police’s reaction came after demonstrators marched on the municipal government building, which is common during protests.
The protesters tried to invade the headquarters of the municipal government pushing the police to attack right away,” said Fathi Ahmed Titet, a member of the Tunisian League of Human Rights, a prominent human rights monitoring organization.
In the past, the police use to warn people before attacking, what happened yesterday in Gafsa was totally inexplicable,” Titet said.
Activist Ghzala Hamdi, who participated in Friday’s march, told Tunisia Live, police attacked the protesters about a half an hour from the start of the march. Mofti was hit with a tear gas container and fell bleeding from the mouth and nose and died on the spot.” [display_posts type=”same_author” limit=”3″ position=”right”]
Lotfi Hidouri, a Ministry of the Interior press officer, denied having details of the incident.
We know that Mofti worked in Tunisia's telecommunication sector, we have no idea if he died immediately or in the morning, the case is still blurry so far” Hidouri said.
There have been reports of further causalities from protests around the country, confirmation is ongoing.
Nissaf Slama is a previous author and producer with Tunisia Live. Nissaf, who graduated from the Preparatory Institute of English Literary Studies of Tunis in 2012, joined TL early 2013 where she covered political, cultural and civil society stories. Ever since, Nissaf collaborated with the New York Times and Al Jazeera English. Nissaf also interned with the Human Rights Watch where she covered Transitional Justice sexual minorities in Tunisia. Nissaf also worked with Peace Direct's Insight On Conflict as a local peacebuilding expert. Now, Nissaf works with the International Organization for Migration- Libya.