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France returns to Algeria the bodies of combatants killed during colonization

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France returned to Algeria this Friday (3) the remains of 24 Algerian fighters killed between 1838 and 1865, in battles against French colonization in North Africa. The bodies arrived in the African country with military honors.

Claimed for years by Algeria, these remains were preserved in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History in France.

Among the bodies returned are combatants considered martyrs from Algeria, such as Sheikh Bouziane, head of the Zaâtcha rebellion in 1849. During the battle, he was eventually captured by French soldiers and was killed and beheaded.

According to the president of Algeria, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, the bodies remained in France because the French did not want the martyrs’ graves to become “symbols of resistance”.

Re-rapprochement between France and Algeria

2 of 2 Bodies of 19th century Algerian combatants were received with military honors when they arrived in Algeria this Friday (3) – Photo: AFP PHOTO / HO / ALGERIE 3 TV

Bodies of 19th century Algerian fighters were received with military honors when they arrived in Algeria this Friday (3) – Photo: AFP PHOTO / HO / ALGERIE 3 TV

When the bodies reached the capital Algiers, President Tebboune bowed to each of the 24 fighters in awe. According to the agency France 24, the bodies will be buried on Sunday, when the country celebrates 58 years of independence.

The return is part of an attempt at rapprochement between France and Algeria. Visiting the African country in December 2017, President Emmanuel Macron pledged to return the bodies of these Algerian fighters.

“This gesture is part of a work of friendship and clarity about all the wounds in our history,” said the French government, in a statement.

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