Official: Chief of Algerian police killed by colleague

By Aomar Ouali, AP
Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chief of Algerian police killed by colleague

ALGIERS, Algeria — The powerful chief of Algeria’s national police was shot and killed by a colleague during a meeting Thursday in his office at the North African country’s security headquarters, a law enforcement official said.

Two others were injured in the attack on Ali Tounsi, including a security chief for the Algiers region, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to give information to the media.

The silver-haired Tounsi was among the most powerful security officials in Algeria and had been an institution in the country’s fight against Islamic militants since the 1990s, when insurgents tried to overthrow the military-backed government. The violence, which almost brought the country to its knees, killed up to 200,000 people.

Tounsi’s attacker turned his weapon on himself after the shooting at the security headquarters, located on the waterfront of the Mediterranean port city, the official said. Reports differed about whether he survived.

A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that the attacker, an unidentified police colonel, died after shooting himself. Algeria’s APS national news agency, citing an Interior Ministry statement, said he was seriously injured and taken to a hospital.

A judicial inquiry has been opened into the shooting, APS said, adding that the attacker had been seized by a “fit of madness.”

In recent years, Tounsi continued to battle holdouts in the insurgency, who pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden’s international terrorist network and formed a group called Al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa.

Sporadic terror attacks continue, despite President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s national reconciliation plan aimed at luring extremists out of their holdouts and getting them to lay down their arms and reintegrate society.

Algerian media have reported for months that Tounsi had tense relations with Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni, who oversees the nation’s police.

The interior minister reportedly wanted to retire Tounsi, one of the pillars of power who had managed to hang on to his post as the old guard was slowly replaced. As a young man, he fought in the brutal war of independence against France that ended with Algerian independence in 1962.

The assassination took place in a climate of political tension in Algeria, which has been rocked by a corruption investigation targeting management at Algeria’s national oil company, Sonatrach.

will not be displayed