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Saturday, May 22, 1999 Published at 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK

World: Europe

Bombs linked to Corsican separatists

The FLNC is one of organisations fighting for Corsican independence

Two bombs have gone off at the main post office and another building in the French city of Marseille, causing damage but no injuries.

Police say they suspect Corsican separatists were behind the bombings.

The devices exploded on Friday night at the main post office and the local branch of EDF, the state electricity authoritity, in La Ciotat near Marseille.

Both buildings were seriously damaged

Government scandal

[ image: Ex-Prefect Bonnet: Jailed and questioned]
Ex-Prefect Bonnet: Jailed and questioned
The explosions happened just hours after the arrest in Corsica of seven suspected nationalists.

They are being held in connection with last year's assassination of the top government official on the island, Claude Erignac.

The French government already faces a scandal over Mr Erignac's successor, Bernard Bonnet.

Mr Bonnet is in prison being questioned about an alleged plot to stage arson attacks and put the blame on separatists.

A censure motion on the scandal is to be debated by the French parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Bonnet, who has been sacked and jailed, says he is innocent and has threatened to implicate two government ministers in the affair.

He was questioned for more than five hours on Friday by investigating magistrates.

A quarter century of conflict

Governing Corsica has been an ongoing problem for the French government for almost a quarter of a century.

Corruption is rampant on the island and a separatist campaign has thrived for over 20 years.

Several hundred bombs go off in Corsica each year, causing few injuries, but doing great damage to the tourist industry.

Successive French governments have been unwilling to offer meaningful regional autonomy, including official status for the Corsican language and recognition of the Corsicans as a distinct nationality.

Corsican militants do not advocate total independence.

But French governments remain firmly attached to the republican creed, in place since the French Revolution of 1789, of a unitary state, inhabited by one "nation of citizens".

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