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The BBC's Nita Bhalla
"It is definitely a TPLF issue"
 real 28k

Saturday, 12 May, 2001, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
Ethiopia intelligence chief killed
Ethiopian troops withdrawing from Eritrea
Kinfe supported the prime minister during Eritrea war
The Ethiopian government says the country's security and intelligence chief has been assassinated in the capital, Addis Ababa.

A statement from the Prime Minister's office said the intelligence chief, Kinfe Gebre-Medhin, was shot and killed as he entered the Ethiopian armed forces officers' club in Addis Ababa.

The intelligence chief was a loyal supporter of the prime minister
Kinfe Gebre-Medhin was always heavily guarded
The statement - broadcast on national radio - said the assailant - who was in the uniform of an army major - was captured and taken into custody.

Reports from Addis Ababa identify the man as Major Tsehaye Wolde-Selassie. Sources close to Mr Kinfe suggest he had a personal grudge against him.

Others say dissenting groups which were expelled from the government are behind the assassination.

Senior army and government officials, including the Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin, have been paying their condolences to Mr Kinfe's family.

He was one of Ethiopia's most heavily-guarded people and questions are being asked as to how he could have been killed by one of his own men.

Loyalist

Mr Kinfe had held the post as head of security and intelligence since rebels of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front overthrew Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in May 1991.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
Meles: Had Kinfe's support over war with Eritrea
He belonged to the 30-member central committee of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's Tigray People's Liberation Front, the core group in the four-member coalition that makes up the EPRDF.

He was among those who backed the prime minister in a power struggle that culminated in March with the expulsion of 12 members who criticized Mr Meles' conduct of the two-and-a-half year-long border war with Eritrea that ended last December.

Eritrea, formerly an Ethiopian province, became independent with Ethiopian support in 1993.

But border and economic disputes between the two countries erupted into war in which tens of thousands of soldiers died.

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See also:

26 May 00 | Africa
Eritrea's 'tactical retreat'
08 May 01 | Africa
Ethiopian academics arrested
21 Apr 01 | Africa
Anger over Ethiopian detainees
18 Apr 01 | Africa
More clashes in Addis Ababa
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