Man gunned down amid Corsica bombing spree

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A MAN was shot dead and several houses were bombed on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica on Friday.

The wave of attacks followed a series of killings this year that has outraged France and prompted the government to pledge to stamp out the ­violence that has long been allowed to simmer on the island, which has in the past been plagued by criminal gangs and militant nationalist agitation.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said yesterday that it was investigating the series of explosions, including their possible links to terrorist or criminal organisations.

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 holiday homes. The island is popular with tourists drawn by its rugged beaches and stunning mountain vistas.

French media reported that 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 a man was arrested in possession of explosives. It was not clear if he was suspected in the bombings.

The gunning down 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 – familiar to residents – recently burst on to the national scene with the killings of a prominent businessman and defence 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 nationalist movement is active 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 taken over by the French under ­the Corsican-born Napoleon Bonaparte in 1796.

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the adoption of the island’s 18th-century constitution and is celebrated by some as the island’s national day.