French island of Corsica hit by attacks

A picture taken on December 8, 2012 in Calvi, Corsica, shows one of the houses destroyed in a series of at least 24 attacks aimed at secondary residences across the island overnight December 7 to 8. AFP PHOTO / PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA

PARIS: A man was shot dead and several houses were bombed on the French island of Corsica, a vacation destination that is also home to criminal gangs and a simmering homegrown nationalist movement.

The wave of attacks Friday night comes after a series of killings this year that has outraged France and prompted to government to vow to stamp out the violence that has long been allowed to simmer on the island in the Mediterranean Sea known for its mountain vistas and rugged beaches.

The Paris prosecutor's office said Saturday that it is investigating the series of explosions, including their possible links to terrorist or criminal organizations. The office said at least 17 houses were hit on Friday night; no one was hurt in the attacks and most are believed to have been at vacation homes.

French media reported as many as two dozen homes were targeted. Officials with the prosecutor's office said that bad weather on the mountainous island was complicating their ability to get a full account of the attacks.

In addition, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said that on Friday a man was arrested in possession of explosives. It was not clear if he was suspected in the bombings.

The shooting death of a man on the island was being treated separately. Corsica has seen more than a dozen such murders this year, apparently carried out by criminal gangs.

But the violence - well known to residents - recently burst onto the national scene with the killings of a prominent businessman and defense lawyer. The government vowed to restore order, and Valls said Friday's arrest was proof those efforts were bearing fruit.

But the wave of bombings is sure to increase the pressure even further and could arouse suspicions that the homegrown nationalist movement is radicalizing again. Twenty years ago, the island was the scene of dozens of bombings, most of them linked to the movement, which has fought for Corsica's distinct language and culture since the island was definitively taken over by the French under Napoleon in 1796.

Saturday marks the anniversary of the adoption of island's 18th-century constitution and is celebrated by some as the island's national day.





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