Page last updated at 16:14 GMT, Thursday, 25 February 2010

Algeria police chief shot dead at force headquarters

Ali Tounsi - 2007 file photo
Mr Tounsi was closely involved in Algeria's fight against extremists

The chief of Algeria's national police force, Ali Tounsi, has been shot dead in the capital, Algiers, officials say.

He was killed by a colleague during a regular morning meeting in the police headquarters in front of several witnesses, the interior ministry said.

The alleged killer was seized with what the ministry called an attack of madness and shot Col Tounsi before turning the gun on himself.

He was now in hospital with severe injuries, the ministry said.

A judicial inquiry into the circumstances of the shooting has been opened. There has been no indication of a link to Islamist militants, who have periodically attacked government targets.

Col Tounsi was one of Algeria's most powerful security officials and was closely involved in the country's fight against militants, analysts say.

He had devoted himself to serving the nation, a statement from the interior ministry said, and to the modernisation of the national police force which he had been head of for more than 10 years.

Algeria was riven with violence after the 1992 general election, won by an Islamist party, was annulled.

More than 150,000 people died, but an amnesty in 1999 led many rebels to lay down their arms.

Political violence in Algeria has declined since then, but a group calling itself Al-Qaeda in the Land of Islamic Maghreb (AQLIM) has continued to carry out attacks.

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