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Algeria asks france to admit 1945 massacre { May 9 2005 }

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May 9, 2005
Algeria Asks France to Admit Violence

ALGIERS, May 8 (Reuters) - President Abdelaziz Bouteflika asked France in a speech published Sunday to admit its part in what he called the massacres of 45,000 Algerians who took to the streets to demand independence on May 8, 1945, as Europe celebrated victory over Nazi Germany.

Algeria is commemorating the 60th anniversary of the repression of pro-independence demonstrators under French colonial rule as Europeans are celebrating the end of World War II in Europe.

"The paradox of the massacres of May 8, 1945, is that when the heroic Algerian combatants returned from the fronts in Europe, Africa and elsewhere where they defended France's honor and interests," Mr. Bouteflika said in the speech, "the French administration fired on peaceful demonstrators." The speech, given in the city of SÚtif on Saturday, was published by Algeria's state media.

French colonial forces mounted an air and ground offensive that lasted for several days against several eastern cities, particularly SÚtif and Guelma, in response to the independence demonstrations. The Algerian government says the French offensive left 45,000 people dead. European historians put the figure at 15,000 to 20,000.

France ruled Algeria from 1830 until 1962.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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