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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
France commemorates Algerian veterans

President Chirac of France has paid tribute to more than a quarter of a million Algerians, known as Harkis, who fought on the French side during the war of independence in the 1950s and 60s.

Speaking at a commemorative ceremony in the presence of more than one-hundred veterans, Mr Chirac praised the Harkis as fierce and courageous combatants, whose loyalty and patriotism should at last be honoured.

President Chirac unveiled a ceremonial plaque and awarded decorations to the veterans.

The Harkis were abandoned at the end of French colonial rule over Algeria.

Thousands were subsequently killed, and those who made it to France were interned in camps.

Their descendants have been fighting ever since for French recognition of their support.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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