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Mourning amid teargas: Funeral turns into violent confrontation with Tunisian police

Anis Mili / Reuters

Soldiers help mourners carry the coffin of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid during his funeral procession towards the nearby cemetery of El-Jellaz, where he is to be buried, in the Jebel Jelloud district of Tunis, on Feb. 8. Tens of thousands of mourners chanted anti-Islamist slogans on Friday at the Tunis funeral of secular opposition leader Belaid, whose assassination has plunged Tunisia deeper into political crisis.

Anis Mili / Reuters

A couple mourns next to a Tunisian flag during the funeral procession for the late secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid in the Jebel Jelloud district in Tunis, on Feb. 8.

Hassene Dridi / AP

Thousands of Tunisians are gathered at el Jallez cemetery to attend the funerals of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid, near Tunis, on Feb. 8. The Feb. 6 assassination of prominent government critic Chokri Belaid plunged the country into one of its deepest political crises since the overthrow of the dictatorship in 2011. The coffin is carried by pallbearers at center of picture.

Amine Landoulsi / AP

Tunisian women protects their faces from teargas while attending the funeral of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid at el Jallez cemetery near Tunis, on Feb. 8.

By Tarek Amara and Alistair Lyon, Reuters

Published 12:20pm ET: TUNIS, Tunisia -- Police and mourners clashed at the mass funeral on Friday of secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid, whose assassination has plunged Tunisia deeper into political crisis.

Braving chilly rain, at least 50,000 people turned out to honor Belaid in his home district of Jebel al-Jaloud in the capital, chanting anti-Islamist and anti-government slogans.

It was Tunisia's biggest funeral since the death of Habib Bourguiba, independence leader and first president, in 2000.

Violence erupted near the cemetery as police fired teargas at demonstrators who threw stones and set cars ablaze. Police also used teargas against protesters near the Interior Ministry, a frequent flashpoint for clashes in the Tunisian capital.

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EPA

Tunisians cover their faces as they stand at Jellaz cemetery amid teargas fired by police during the funeral of slain opposition politician Chokri Belaid, in Tunis, Tunisia, on Feb 8. Media reports state that Tunisian police fired tear gas outside the cemetery in the capital Tunis where thousands of people had gathered for the funeral of opposition leader Chokri Belaid. Belaid was shot dead by an unknown attacker outside his home on Feb. 6.

Louafi Larbi / Reuters

A protester flees from teargas fired by riot police during clashes with riot police near the cemetery where slain Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid is buried on Feb. 8.

Hassene Dridi / AP

Protestors burn cars next to the cemetery where thousands of Tunisians are gathered to attend the funerals of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid, near Tunis, on Feb. 8.

Amine Landoulsi / AP

Thousands of Tunisians attend the funeral of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid at el Jallez cemetery near Tunis, on Feb. 8. The Feb. 6 assassination of prominent government critic Chokri Belaid plunged the country into one of its deepest political crises since the overthrow of the dictatorship in 2011.

Amine Landoulsi / AP

A tunisian woman wrapped in her national flag makes her way through tombs while attending the funeral of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid at el Jallez cemetery near Tunis, on Feb. 8.

Police and mourners clashed at the funeral of secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid, whose assassination has plunged Tunisia deeper into political crisis. NBCNews.com's Alex Witt reports.