Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, third from left, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, not seen, and his wife, Carla Bruni, top right, are surrounded by security during a departure ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.



An Israeli policeman's apparent suicide sparked a security alert Tuesday that saw French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert whisked away by bodyguards during an airport departure ceremony in Tel Aviv, a police spokesman said.

Television footage showed Sarkozy being surrounded by bodyguards after a loud bang rang out at Ben-Gurion Airport as he and his wife were boarding an airplane to return to France. In the panic, his wife Carla Bruni was seen racing up the stairs to the aircraft without him.

Meanwhile, Olmert's detail quickly surrounded the Israeli leader and Israeli President Shimon Peres and escorted them away to awaiting cars.

Neither Sarkozy nor Olmert was endangered, police said.

The incident was over within minutes, and witnesses said Olmert later boarded the plane to inform Sarkozy what had happened. The airplane subsequently departed for France.

Police spokesman Shlomi Sagi confirmed that a policeman guarding the airport committed suicide just as Sarkozy was about to board his plane and a band was playing.

Several Israeli media outlets reported that a soldier stationed 100 metres to 200 metres away from the plane shot himself in the head, while two female soldiers who witnessed the shooting fainted.

Israeli leaders and dignitaries have been protected by large security details following Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination by a right-wing Israeli extremist in 1995.

Seconds later, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, bottom right, and his wife, top right, are rushed onto the airplane.

You know, if you want to kill a leader of a country, it's far easier to do when you point the gun away from your head..... silly people.

But seriously, why kill himself then and there of all places?