Former Algerian president Ahmed Ben Bella
Former Algerian president Ahmed Ben Bella

Algerians media are confused and divided over the fate of Algeria's first post-independence president Ahmed Ben Bella.

On its online edition the daily El-Watan announced the death of the former president.

"This morning, one of his nephews ... confirmed the death of the former president, telling our correspondent 'He is clinically dead,'" El-Watan wrote.

The news was however refuted by the Algerian news agency APS and public radio Chaîne 3 which both said the 96-year-old was in a stable condition at the Ain Naâdjal military hospital in Algiers. He was allegedly admitted after he fainted but is now recovering.

"News of his death is false," APS said. "Ben Bella is still alive and under medical observation at the hospital after having been taken there overnight."

In another twist, citing sources close to the hospital management, the newspaper Liberte said he was "still hospitalised in critical condition" but its online edition later added he is now recovering and out of danger.

There was no official information immediately available on Ben Bella's health.

Ben Bella became the first president of Algeria after its independence in 1962. He was overthrown in by close friend and former Defence minister Houari Boumediene 1965.