Jacques Massu, 94, a retired general who led French forces to victory in the 1957 Battle of Algiers and later expressed regret for the torture of opponents in the independence war, died Oct. 26 at his home in the town of Conflans-sur-Loing, in the central Loiret region of France.
The cause of death was not reported.
During a military career that spanned most major French battles since World War I, Gen. Massu rose to prominence in World War II. In June 1940, he followed Gen. Charles de Gaulle's call to resist the pro-Nazi Vichy government in France.
Before rising to the rank of general in 1955, he fought in Chad, Tunisia, Vietnam and other operations in the former French colonies across Africa and Asia.
In 1956, he took command of the 10th Parachute Division, the elite French force assigned to maintain order in Algeria.
Gen. Massu eventually led French troops to victory in the 1957 Battle of Algiers -- a pivotal point in the war that ended with Algeria's independence from France.
The 1954-62 Algerian war is considered the most troubling chapter of recent French history. Through the years, it was recognized that torture was widespread during the conflict, though there has been no official admission.
Gen. Massu, in an interview with Le Monde in 2000, said he regretted the practices of torture and summary executions during the war, which were "generalized," then "institutionalized."
"Torture was not indispensable during times of war," Gen. Massu said in the interview. "We could have done things differently."
President Jacques Chirac said Gen. Massu's passing marked the "disappearance of a very great soldier." In a statement, Chirac praised Gen. Massu for having gone public with his difficult confession.
"In the twilight of his life, as France engaged in a difficult debate about the painful pages of its recent history, Gen. Massu assumed his responsibilities with dignity, courage and honesty," Chirac said.
Gen. Massu was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the prestigious Grand-Cross of the Legion of Honor during his 40-year military career.