TUNIS, Dec 4, 2012 (AFP) -
TUNIS, Dec 4, 2012 (AFP) –
Suspected supporters of Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party on Tuesday attacked a demonstration by the country’s main trade union, in the latest unrest two years after the revolution, an AFP photographer said.
The assailants attacked members of UGTT, which organised a string of anti-government protests last week, who were demonstrating outside the union’s headquarters in Tunis to mark the 60th anniversary of the death of its founder, Farhat Hached.
The police intervened to separate the two sides, but several people were hurt in the unrest, according to the same source.
The UGTT’s deputy leader, Hfaidh Hfaidh, accused the League for the Protection of the Revolution, an organisation close to Ennahda, of orchestrating the unrest.
The opposition has previously accused the League, a militia that claims as its mission to protect the aims of the mass uprising that toppled former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011, of deadly acts of violence.
For its part, Ennahda, which heads Tunisia’s ruling coalition after winning legislative elections in November last year, strongly criticised Tuesday’s violence against the demonstrators, and called for restraint.
The UGTT union’s leader, Houcine Abassi, avoided accusing any specific group, instead blaming the “enemies of democracy,” while denouncing an unprecedented attack against his organisation.
“They want to assassinate the UGTT on the day that it commemorates the assassination of Hached, who sacrificed his life for his people and his country,” Abassi told private radio station Shems FM.
The UGTT has already accused Ennahda supporters of instigating unrest in Tunisia’s flashpoint town of Siliana last week, which began as peaceful protests, called by the union, to demand the governor’s resignation and financial aid.
But the protests rapidly degenerated, with youths erecting barricades and hurling rocks and petrol bombs at the police, who responded by firing teargas and birdshot to disperse the crowds.
More than 300 people were wounded in five days of violence.
The latest unrest comes as clashes, strikes and attacks by hardline Islamists have multiplied across Tunisia, plunging the country into a political impasse.