Sharp escalation in tensions follows a French decision to slash the number of visas issued to people in North Africa

Algeria has refused permission for France to fly military planes in its airspace and announced the recall of its ambassador from Paris in the wake of what it said were “inadmissible” comments attributed to French President Emmanuel Macron.

This weekend’s sharp escalation in tensions also follows a French decision to slash the number of visas issued to people in North Africa — including Algeria — because governments there are refusing to take back migrants expelled from France.

A French request that two military planes be allowed to fly Sunday over Algerian territory was rejected, French military spokesman Col. Pascal Ianni said. One plane was meant to depart from France, the other from Chad, he said.

Ianni said it isn’t clear whether Algeria is closing its airspace completely to the French military or whether Sunday’s flights will be the only ones affected.

“We haven’t had official notification, so we will see,” he said. “The planners are thinking about how we will adapt.”

Algeria had approved previous French flights in recent months, he said.

The flight ban followed the immediate recall of Algeria’s ambassador from France for “consultations” — announced Saturday evening by the Algerian presidency.

The statement said the diplomat’s recall was motivated by recent comments about Algeria that were attributed to Macron. The comments amounted to “inadmissible interference” in Algeria’s affairs and were “an intolerable affront” to Algerians who died fighting French colonialism, the Algerian presidency said.

“The crimes of colonial France in Algeria are innumerable and fit the strictest definitions of genocide,” its statement alleged.

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