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Algeria: minister demands French own up to 'crimes'

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17:48 CET+01:00
Algerians want "frank acknowledgement" of crimes committed against them during the French colonization of the country, a minister said on Tuesday, ahead of the 58th anniversary of the war for independence.

"In view of the crimes committed by this colonizer against a defenceless people... the Algerians want frank acknowledgement (of them)," Mohamed Cherif Abbas, minister of the mujahedeen (veterans of the war), told news agency APS.

Cherif spoke after French President Francois Hollande recognized earlier this month the "bloody repression" of Algerian protesters by police in Paris in October 1961, which historians killed dozens, possibly hundreds.

At the call of Algeria's National Liberation Front (FLN), which was fighting for independence, between 20,000 and 30,000 men, women and children from Algeria protested in Paris against a police curfew.

Ordered to halt the demonstration, police waded into the crowd in a hail of blows and bodies were thrown into the river.

The official toll was given as three dead, including two Algerians, but historians have said that between 50 and 200 people were killed. 

"The recognition of the October 17, 1961 massacre is primarily political, given the manner in which it was carried out," Cherif said, two days before the anniversary of the war, which started November 1 1954.

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Hollande is set to visit Algeria in December and hopes to improve relations between the two countries and achieve a "strategic partnership," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said.

The FLN won independence for the north African country in July 1962.

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