One protestor dead, 11 police wounded in Tunisia after Ansar Al Sharia clashes
Security forces gesture towards Ansar Al Sharia protestors in the Ettadhamen, Tunisia on Sunday. AFP
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The supporters of the hardline Tunisian Islamist group Ansar Al Sharia clashed with security forces in the central city of Kairouan and in the Ettadamen district of Tunis on Sunday.
The violence broke out after the government banned the Salafist group's annual rally. This move caused mass indignation and the group urged all of its supporters to defy the ban and rally anyways.
The protest has left one 27 year old Tunisian man dead, and three protestors and 11 officers wounded, according to media reports.
Some 11,000 police officers, according to Reuters, blocked the rally in the city of Kairouan and were expected to be met by tens of thousands of Ansar al-Sharia members.
The group's supporters flung stones at the security forces, who retaliated with tear gas.
During the clashes in Ettadamen, the Islamists chanted "the rule of the tyrant should fall".
Rioters set fire to cars, lowered the Tunisian flag and replaced it with a black Al Qaeda banner. Ansar Al Sharia openly support Al Qaeda.
“We call on our brothers to gather in large numbers in the Ettadhamen district of the capital,” the hardline Islamist group said on its Facebook page prior to the event.
Tunisia has been rocked by attacks blamed on militant Islamists since the uprising that toppled president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and Ansar Al Sharia is considered the most radical of the extremist groups that emerged after the 2011 revolution.
The government has hardened its position towards Islamist extremists in recent months, after the moderate Islamist party Ennahda was strongly criticized for being too lenient and failing to prevent a wave of violence around the country.