2nd hunger striker dies in Tunisia

2012-11-17 20:41
Demonstrators throw stones during a protest against an anti-Islam film outside the US Embassy in Tunis. (File, AP)

Demonstrators throw stones during a protest against an anti-Islam film outside the US Embassy in Tunis. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tunis - A key figure in Tunisia's Salafist movement, Mohammed Bakhti, died on Saturday after going on hunger strike over his arrest for an attack on the US embassy, the second such death this week, his lawyer said.

"He died in hospital at around 02:00 (01:00 GMT)," said Abdelbasset Ben Mbarek, noting his death followed that of another jailed member of the hardline Islamist movement, Bechir Gholli, who died on Thursday also after refusing food for nearly two months.

The lawyer had warned for several days that Bakhti, who was suffering from a brain haemorrhage, was in critical condition.

The moderate Islamist party Ennahda, which heads Tunisia's ruling coalition, called for a "rapid and transparent probe" to determine "the circumstances of the arrests and detentions as well as the causes of death and the hunger strikes".

Detention conditions

Bakhti and Gholli started their hunger strike in late September, days after their arrest in connection with a September 14 attack on the US embassy by a crowd of Islamists during which four of the assailants were killed in clashes with security forces.

They insisted they were innocent and protested over the conditions of detention, while the Salafist movement charged it was being victimised by the authorities.

Bakhti was considered a senior figure in the jihadist movement and close to Abu Iyad, the alleged organiser of the embassy attack who is on the run.

Justice Minister Noureddine Bhiri of Ennahda said on Friday that Bakhti had been released on November 11. "His health deteriorated after his release," he said.

But Ben Mbarek said that Bakhti had been in a coma and was dying. The decision to free him was taken because the authorities knew "he was about to die", the lawyer said.

100+ detained

Bakhti was jailed for 12 years in 2007 for bloody clashes between the army and Islamists in Soliman, near Tunis, under Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's regime but released under an amnesty declared after the 2011 revolution.

In the attack on the US mission, hundreds of protesters, angry over an anti-Islam film made in the United States, stormed the sprawling embassy compound in a suburb of Tunis.

More than 100 people were detained following the attack.

Tunisia's hardline Islamists have carried out numerous acts of violence since last year's revolution that ousted Ben Ali.

Read more on:    religion  |  north africa  |  prophet protests

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Trying to keep time for your social commitments and friendships as well as taking care of work and health obligations can be a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.