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Vatican beatifies 19 Catholics killed in Algeria's civil war

The beatification ceremony was held in the city of Oran [AFP]

Date of publication: 8 December, 2018

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The Catholic Church has beatified 19 monks, nuns and other Catholics who were killed during Algeria's civil war in the 1990s.

A cardinal dispatched by the Vatican held a beatification ceremony on Saturday for 19 monks, nuns and other Catholics who were killed during Algeria's civil war in the 1990s.

Pope Francis recognised all 19 as martyrs in January, paving the way for the ceremony in the northwestern Algerian city of Oran. Beatification is a step in the process of being declared a saint.

Archbishop of Algiers, Paul Desfarges, said the ceremony in the northwestern port city of Oran was "a way to highlight" the dedication of the 19 men and women who remained in the country during the violence. 

Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, is celebrating Saturday's Mass at the Notre Dame de Santa Cruz basilica as the pope's special envoy.

The seven French monks were kidnapped from the monastery of Tibhirine, south of Algiers, in 1996. Their severed heads were discovered two months later and their deaths were announced by the insurgent Armed Islamic Group of Algeria (GIA).
 
Some observers have suggested, however, that Algeria's military was responsible.

The five other victims, among whom were citizens of France, Spain, Belgium and Tunisia, were gunned down in 1994 and 1995.


Algeria's president agreed to allow the ceremony in Algeria despite continued tensions over the deaths.

Some 200,000 people lost their lives in Algeria's 1991-2002 civil war between Islamists and security forces, dubbed the country's "Black Decade".

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