Aircraft carrying skulls of Algerian resistance fighters to French occupation lands at Algiers airport

ALGIERS- The aircraft carrying the skulls of Algerian resistance fighters against French invasion and occupation, held since more than a century and a half at au the Natural History Museum of Paris, landed Friday in Houari Boumedienne international airport of Algiers.

The military aircraft C-130 carrying, from France, the remains of the 24 Algerian resistance fighters against the French colonization, escorted by fighter planes, landed in the early afternoon at the Houari Boumediene airport.

President of the Republic Abdelmadjid Tebboune, commander-in-chief , minister of National Defence, Abdelmadjid Tebboune chaired the ceremony welcoming the coffins, in the presence of senior State officials, including the acting speaker of the Council of the Nation (upper house of Parliament), Salah Goudjil, the speaker of the People’s National Assembly, Slimane Chenine.

Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad, the chief of Staff of the People’s National Army, Lieutenant General Saïd Chanegriha, the commander of the Republican Guard, General Ali Ben Ali, and members of the government also attended the ceremony.

The president of the Republic, in a ceremony marking the Independence Day on Thursday, said the reception of the 24 skulls is a first step in the repatriation of the mortal remains of Algerian resistance fighters.

President Tebboune stressed the State’s determination to continue the operation until the repatriation of all the Algerian resistance fighters, to be buried in the country for which they had sacrificed their lives.

The skulls of many Algerian resistance fighters can be found at the Museum of Natural History in Paris.

Among the skulls kept in the museum those of Mohamed Lamjad Ben Abdelmalek, known as Cherif Boubaghla, who led a popular insurrection in the Djurdjura region, in Kabylia and to Sheikh Bouziane, the leader of the Zaatcha revolt (Biskra region in 1849),

They also include those of Moussa El-Derkaoui, the military adviser to Sheikh Bouziane, and of Si Mokhtar Ben Kouider Al-Titraoui, in addition to the mummified head of Aissa El-Hamadi, who was the lieutenant of Cherif Boubaghla, and the integral moulding of the head of Mohamed Ben-Allel Ben Embarek, lieutenant of Emir Abdelkader.

During the siege of Zaatcha, Biskra (425-km southeast of algiers), the Algerian resistance fighters under the leadership of Sheikh Bouziane fought against the troops of the French occupation forces led by General Emile Herbillonet.

The siege had ended with the extermination of the local population of the oasis.

Algeria had made an official request, to France, for the return of the skulls, and the issue was discussed between the highest authorities of the two countries.

A technical commission composed of Algerian experts has been created for the identification of the skulls of the Algerian resistance fighters.

The minister of Mujahedeen (national liberation war veterans), Tayeb Zitouni, said in January 2019 that until then, “31 skulls have been identified and the operation is carrying on.”