Algeria was in mourning on Thursday after the death of its first post-independence president Ahmed Ben Bella, hailed as an anti-colonialist hero and the father of the nation.
The body of Ben Bella, who died at home on Wednesday at the age of 95 following a recent hospital stay for respiratory problems, was taken to the People's Palace in Algiers where it will lie in state for 24 hours.
State television showed Ben Bella's flag-draped coffin being carried by six senior army officials, who were followed by his two daughters Mehdia and Noria.
"Farewell, father to Algerians," proclaimed L'Expression newspaper, which like other media outlets extolled Ben Bella and the profound mark he left on the north African country.
Current President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who said Algeria had lost one of its bravest leaders, went to the People's Palace to greet the coffin. Ben Bella will lie in state for 24 hours.
Bouteflika on Wednesday declared an an eight-day period of national mourning, with Ben Bella's funeral to be held on Friday.
A charismatic hero of Algeria's independence from France, Ben Bella was president from 1963 to 1965, when he was overthrown by his defence minister, Houari Boumediene, a close ally of Bouteflika.
His military experience began when he joined a colonial unit of the French army and served in World War II, for which he was decorated for shooting down a German plane over the French Mediterranean port of Marseille and for his service in the battle of Monte Cassino in Italy in 1944.
After the war, Ben Bella became a leading member of the Special Organisation, founded to prepare for an anti-colonial uprising.
He was arrested after taking part in a robbery to obtain funds, escaped to Cairo, then was arrested again in 1956. He spent the rest of the war in prison.
France granted independence in 1962 and freed Ben Bella, who became the new nation's first president a year later.
El-Watan newspaper called Ben Bella "without doubt the most controversial and complex political figure in our country's history".© ANP/AFP