A 24-year-old French soldier was killed in action in Afghanistan, France's presidential office said Saturday, marking the 63rd French soldier to be killed there since 2001.

"/> A 24-year-old French soldier was killed in action in Afghanistan, France's presidential office said Saturday, marking the 63rd French soldier to be killed there since 2001.

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AFGHANISTAN

French soldier shot dead in Afghanistan

A 24-year-old French soldier was killed in action in Afghanistan, France's presidential office said Saturday, marking the 63rd French soldier to be killed there since 2001.

Cyrille Hugodot was shot by an insurgent while carrying out an operation in the northeastern Kapisa province. He is the 63rd member of the French contingent to die there since 2001.

His unit was providing protection to engineers searching for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at the side of the road, spokesman Colonel Thierry Burkhard said.

Hugodot had died of his injuries in hospital in Kabul, he added.

President Nicolas Sarkozy offered his condolences to the serviceman’s family while reaffirming French support for Afghans as the transition process continued, a statement said.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon paid tribute to the “dedication and professionalism” of soldiers engaged in providing security in Afghanistan and aiding its reconstruction.

The circumstances were virtually identical to the incident in which the last soldier killed there died, in the same region on June 18.

Florian Morillon, 20, also belonged to the Pamiers regiment.

Sarkozy announced on Friday that “several hundred” of the 4,000 French troops in Afghanistan would be withdrawn before the end of 2011.

The president said he shared US President Barack Obama’s belief that security had improved since the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and that the handover to Afghan troops and police was taking place smoothly.

WAR

French forces tortured and murdered Algerian freedom fighter in 1950s, admits Macron

French forces "tortured and murdered" Algerian freedom fighter Ali Boumendjel during his country's war for independence, President Emmanuel Macron admitted on Tuesday, officially reappraising a death that was covered up as a suicide.

French forces tortured and murdered Algerian freedom fighter in 1950s, admits Macron
Malika, the widow of Ali Boumendjel, pictured in 2001. Photo: Stefan Fferberg/AFP

Macron made the admission “in the name of France” during a meeting with Boumendjel’s grandchildren.

The move comes after Macron in January refused to issue an official apology for abuses committed during the occupation of Algeria – instead, he agreed to form a “truth commission” as recommended by a report commissioned by the government to shed light on France’s colonial past.

Atrocities committed by both sides during the 1954-1962 Algerian war of independence continue to strain relations between the countries.

Boumendjel, a nationalist and lawyer, was arrested during the battle of Algiers by the French army, “placed incommunicado, tortured, and then killed on 23 March 1957,” the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

“Ali Boumendjel did not commit suicide. He was tortured and then killed,” Macron told Boumendjel’s grandchildren, according to the statement.

It is not the first time the real cause of death was acknowledged.

In 2000, the former head of French intelligence in Algiers Paul Aussaresses confessed to ordering Boumendjel’s death and disguising the murder as a suicide, according to the statement.

It added that Macron on Tuesday had also reiterated his desire to give families the opportunity to find out the truth about this chapter of history.

Last month, Boumendjel’s niece Fadela Boumendjel-Chitour denounced what she called the “devastating” lie the French state had told about her uncle.

French historian Benjamin Stora, who wrote the government-commissioned report, has said there is a “never-ending memory war” between the two countries.

The report has been described by the Algerian government as “not objective” and falling “below expectations.”

During his 2017 election campaign, Macron – the first president born after the colonial period – declared that the occupation of Algeria was a “crime against humanity”.

He has since said there was “no question of showing repentance” or of “presenting an apology” for abuses committed in the North African country.

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