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Tunisia: Fire at Ennahda HQ kills one and injures a dozen

Two party officials were hospitalised after jumping from the second floor after a man set himself on fire
Tunisian firefighters and security forces work in the aftermath of a blaze at Ennahda party headquarters in central Tunis on 9 December 2021 (AFP)

A fire at the headquarters of Tunisia's Ennahda party killed one person and injured 12 people on Thursday, the country's civil protection agency said.

Ennahda confirmed that one of its members was killed in the fire but did not give further details.

A Tunis court said the person who died set himself on fire inside the main headquarters of the Muslim democratic political party.

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Former prime minister and the group's vice president Ali Laaryadh and advisory board head Abdelkarim Harouni were both injured after jumping from the second floor to escape the flames. 

They were later hospitalised, according to party officials. 

Ennahda official Mondher Lounisi told reporters that the party's president Rached Ghannouchi, who served as speaker of Tunisia's parliament before President Kais Saied suspended him, was not in the building at the time. 

Images posted online showed forensic teams scouring the building as they looked for what caused the fire. 

A party member told Reuters that the fire sprang from a short-circuit in the main meeting hall. But some members said the blaze was sparked when a man set himself on fire - reports that appear to have been confirmed by the Tunis court. 

The blaze comes three days after Ennahda warned it was facing a "defamation" campaign to shut it out of national politics. 

Following the outsing of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, Ennahda has been the largest force in Tunisia's parliament and influenced how the government was run. But that changed when Saied suspended parliament and seized control of the government in a power grab. 

Since the July coup, more than 100 Ennahda officials resigned after criticising the party's handling of Saied's move. 

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