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Published: Saturday, 12/8/2012

French island of Corsica hit by attacks

Wave of attacks hits French island of Corsica; 1 dead


PARIS — A man was shot dead and several houses were bombed on the French island of Corsica, a vacation destination that has seen a wave of gang killings this year and is also home to a simmering nationalist movement.

The attacks Friday night come after the series of killings that has outraged France and prompted the 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 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.

TV footage showed broken glass littering the floors of one of the homes attacked Friday night. It sat on a cliff overlooking the water and looked to still be under construction.

Protecting Corsica's wild landscapes has long been part of the nationalist fight and coastal homes have drawn particular ire. Many are built on land that is supposed to be protected and left undeveloped.

Meanwhile, 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.

Authorities were treating the shooting death of a man on the island 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 the island's 18th-century constitution and is celebrated by some as the island's national day.

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