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France honours Trappist monks killed in Algeria, 20 years on

Fayez Nureldine, AFP | The Monastery of Notre Dame of Atlas in Tibhirine

Mayor Anne Hidalgo unveiled a plaque Monday in Paris to commemorate the deaths of seven French monks who were kidnapped and beheaded in Algeria during the country's civil war. FRANCE 24 takes a look back at the tragedy.


Algeria was rocked by a wave of unprecedented violence in the early 1990s. As the army waged a war against Islamist groups, other armed factions formed and spread terror throughout the country. Despite the violence, a community of Trappist monks living at the Atlas Monastery in Tibhirine chose to stay in Algeria to express their support for the local people.

In March 1996, an armed group burst into the monastery and took seven of the monks hostage. Their severed heads were found on May 30, 1996, but the specific circumstances surrounding their deaths remain a mystery. A statement attributed to the Armed Islamic Group, or GIA, later claimed responsibility for their murders, but no one has ever faced justice for the crime, which remains a sore point between Paris and Algiers.

FRANCE 24's Adel Gastel illustrated the conflict in pen and ink on the 20th anniversary of the monks' deaths. Click on the player above to watch the video.

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