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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Algerian Insurgents Seize French Clergy

ALGIERS -- In yet another act of violence against foreigners, seven French monks were abducted from their mountain retreat Wednesday by an armed group believed to be part of a Moslem insurgency.

The armed men entered the Notre Dame de l'Atlas monastery in northern Algeria seeking a doctor, presumably for a comrade wounded in recent fighting, said Monsignor Pierre Claverie, the bishop of Oran.

"They took seven monks who were sleeping in the main building," including the 82-year-old medic who himself is "very sick," said Claverie, who was optimistic that the monks would not be hurt.

Sources said the monks, who belong to the Trappists, a Roman Catholic order, were kidnapped following a clash Tuesday between extremists and government security forces in the area.

The mountainous area where the monastery is located near the town of Medea about 60 kilometers south of Algiers is known as a refuge for Moslem extremists who are fighting the government.

to set up an Islamic state in the North African country.

The area has also been the scene of major operations by the army trying to rout the extremists, according to Algerian sources.

Security forces launched a search for the monks, well-known in the area for growing crops and working with local farmers.