French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Sunday vowed that his government will take all necessary means to counter “the spiral of crime,” on the island of Corsica.
“What has happened on Corsica is intolerable,” he said in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche weekly, after a night of fresh violence saw around 20 holiday homes bombed and the island’s 20th murder this year.
“Behind these acts lies a criminal organisation which we want to attack at its core. As prime minister I will not content myself with mere words. We are going to do everything possible to stop this spiral of crime,” Ayrault said.
On Saturday his interior minister Manuel Valls insisted that “those who commit crimes, those who blow up villas, should know that the will and determination of the government to stop these criminal acts is absolute.”
Police said that the Friday to Saturday night attacks were on unoccupied second homes, most of which were under construction, and many of which were razed in the attacks.
In a killing that has not been linked to the home attacks, a recently released convict was shot dead in his car on Friday, becoming the island’s 20th murder victim this year. All of the deaths remain unsolved.
Police also detained a man for possessing explosives, in a routine check before the violence erupted. The man is suspected of membership of the island’s nationalist group that is opposed to French rule.
Friday’s violence came on the eve of the island’s nationalists’ annual celebration of the Corsican nation.
The home attacks have not been claimed by any group, but the symbol of a faction of the nationalist group, the FLNC-UC, was tagged on one of the residences.
Since the start of the year there have been 20 murders on an island with a population of just over 300,000, giving it the highest homicide rate in Europe.
Most of the slayings, police believe, have been linked to feuds originating in competition for control of protection rackets which target tourist businesses and the lucrative profits to be had from property development on an island that remains relatively unspoiled.
The situation on Corsica is complicated by the fact that sections of a nationalist movement that has waged a long-running, low-level armed struggle for independence from France appear to have become involved in organised crime.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]