Ennahda deploys ‘mercenaries’ to hold back political rivals in Tunisia

Islamists increasingly resorting to violence

TUNIS - A political party accused "mercenaries" hired by Tunisia's ruling Islamists of carrying out an attack on a meeting of its members on Saturday.
"At the end of our meeting, a group of Ennahda mercenaries and Salafists attacked our activists (in the northwestern city of Kef)," said Chokri Belaid, coordinator of the Democratic Patriots, a left-leaning party.
"Scuffles broke out and a dozen of our members were injured," he added, cited by local radio stations.
Belaid condemned security forces for not having intervened.
The centrist Al Joumhouri party was prevented on Friday from holding a meeting in the town of Kairouan by activists who opposed an alliance they struck with two other opposition parties.
Al Joumhouri secretary general Maya Jribi said the meeting was disrupted by activists of the League for the Protection of the Revolution, a group supported by the Ennahda party.
The Islamist Ennahda came to power after a revolution that ousted former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and has been accused of stifling freedom of expression and seeking to monopolise power.
The country is in the middle of a political crisis as talks on a long-overdue cabinet reshuffle to include a wider range of parties in a coalition led by Ennahda have broken down.