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Saturday, May 15, 1999 Published at 23:12 GMT 00:12 UK

World: Europe

Corsicans demand more autonomy

Several thousand supporters of greater autonomy for Corsica have held a rally in the capital, Ajaccio.

The demonstration -- which brought together fourteen different nationalist groups -- follows the arrest of the senior French government representative, Bernard Bonnet, on the island.

He is suspected of having authorised an illegal arson attack by the police on a beach-front restaurant.

The BBC Paris correspondent says there are signs that the French government is moving towards the creation of a new status for the island.

But he adds that previous attempts at reform have met with enormous obstacles.

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