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Ethiopia intelligence chief killed

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Ethiopia's intelligence chief has been assassinated in the capital Addis Ababa, state radio reported.

Radio Ethiopia reported Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as saying Kinfe Gebre-Medhin, head of national intelligence and security, was shot and killed by an unidentified military officer on Saturday as he entered the Armed Forces Officers' Club.

Kinfe had been head of the Federal Security and Immigration Authority of Ethiopia since the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power in 1991, and was widely seen as a close ally of Meles.

"The killer greeted him first, and as Kinfe was passing, he shot him from the back," an official source who declined to be identified told Reuters.

Kinfe was a notable member of the 30-member central committee of Meles' Tigray People's Liberation Front, the core group in the coalition that makes up the EPRDF.

Kinfe backed Meles in a power struggle that culminated in March with the expulsion of 12 members who criticized the prime minister's conduct of the 2 1/2-year border war with Eritrea that ended last December.

Eritrea, formerly an Ethiopian province, became independent with Ethiopian support in 1993. But border disputes between the two countries erupted into a war in which tens of thousands of soldiers died.

The EPRDF took power 10 years ago to oust Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam.

Kinge, 46, is survived by a son and a daughter. He was a graduate of Durham University in England, the source said.

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