French minister says ‘racism’ is behind bombing of holiday homes in Corsica

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FRANCE’S interior minister has said that there was a “kind of racism” behind the bombings of dozens of holiday homes on the French island of Corsica but stopped short of saying nationalist groups were responsible.

No one has claimed responsibility for the Friday night attacks and officials have not overtly pointed the finger. But several signs indicate there might have been a political motive behind the bombings.

While Corsica was taken over by the French in the 18th century, it has significant autonomy and maintains a distinct language and culture.

Nationalists have long pushed for more autonomy and have lashed out at the influx of “continentals” from mainland France who flock each summer to the Mediterranean island known for its mountain vistas and rugged beaches.

Officials have said that the 26 homes targeted were mostly second residences, which often belong to mainland French.

A graffiti tag of a separatist group was left on one of the houses hit, although the Paris prosecutor’s office said it was too early to consider that a claim of responsibility.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls yesterday declined to say who was behind the attacks, but he pinpointed at least one motive.

“There is without a doubt a kind of racism in the attacks,” he said during an interview.

Corsica is also beset by criminal gangs, and Valls would not rule out their involvement; he said that there are links between the criminal element on the 
island and the nationalists.

This year, gangs have carried out a 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. The same night that the houses were bombed, a man was shot dead in an apparently unrelated attack.