In algiers, General Massu, Commander of the Algiers District, and the man who led the French paratroopers at Suez, took command of the situation at the Ministry building which was being sacked by rioters.
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Background: In algiers, General Massu, Commander of the Algiers District, and the man who led the French paratroopers at Suez, took command of the situation at the Ministry building which was being sacked by rioters.
The mob were still throwing files from the Ministry windows when he appeared on the balcony to appeal for calm.
He read the crowd a telegram that he had sent to President Coty in Paris in which he said, "We inform you of the setting up of a civil and military Committee of Public Safety in Algiers under my chairmanship. We demand the creation of a government of Public Safety capable of keeping Algeria as an integral part of the Metropole".
The rioting in Algiers began when a crowd of nationalist Frenchmen sacked the United States Information Office building and pillaged a French newspaper office. A bigger crowd of up to 50,000 was demonstrating at the same time in the main square against any moves to "surrender" Algeria to the rebels.
They moved on to the central building where a lorry loaded with demonstrators charged the iron gates, knocked them down and allowed the mob to pour into the main building. As the demonstrators, including several women, mounted the staircases and "Occupied" each office, flags were pushed through the windows to mark their climb. Then they reached the top they grabbed the big tricolour and wave it to the people below.
Hurling Government documents from the windows, they shouted down appeals to an Army colonel to give up the building. "We want a government on national union", they yelled.
There was little police or troop interference until the demonstrators attacked the Government building. This security forces unleashed tear gas. But the Crowd was too strong and the building was soon occupied.
When General Massu appeared he told the crowd, "The Army is at one heart with you". Then came the dramatic seizure of the broadcasting stations, and, as communications between the two countries were broken. Radio Algiers continued to broadcast on behalf of the new controlling group.