Nineteen priests and Religious killed by Islamists in Algeria in the 1990s will soon be recognised as martyrs, the postulator for their causes has said.

The group includes Bishop Pierre Claverie of Oran, Algeria, who was killed with his driver by a remote-controlled bomb at his residence, and seven Trappist monks kidnapped from the monastery of Tibhirine and beheaded by al-Qaeda-trained terrorists. The monks’ story was told in the film Of Gods and Men.

Postulator Fr Thomas Georgeon told Mondo e Missione (“World and Mission”), a monthly magazine and website run by the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, that the decree for their beatifications should be published this month.

A 10-year-long armed conflict between government forces and Islamist rebels left tens of thousands of people dead, making the deaths of the 19 Religious “a martyrdom in the midst of a sea of violence that devastated Algeria”, Fr Georgeon said.

“To pay homage to these 19 Christian martyrs means also paying homage to the memory of all those who gave their life in Algeria during those dark years,” he said.

The conflict began in 1992 when the army cancelled the general election that fundamentalist politicians looked likely to win, and cracked down on the Islamic Salvation Front political movement.

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