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Two Bombs Detonate in France

May 9, 1998

PARIS (AP) _ Bombs exploded in Marseille and near the Spanish border overnight, damaging several buildings in attacks that police blamed on Basque and Corsican nationalists.

No injuries were reported and no one immediately claimed responsibility.

A gas canister bomb in Saint-Pierre d’Irube, near the Atlantic port of Bayonne on the Spanish border, caused considerable damage to a bank branch and the town’s City Hall when it exploded early Saturday, police said.

The attack came after two assassinations across the border in Spain this week were blamed on Basque militants there.

In Marseille, a bomb late Friday damaged the Regional Council building and shattered windows nearby.

Police suspected Basque militants in the border blast and Corsican militants in the Marseille explosion.

Also Saturday, on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, police arrested three men who had explosives and ski masks in their car outside a bank in the western port of Ajaccio.

The men, suspected of preparing to plant the bomb at the bank, were believed linked to Corsica’s nationalist movement, police said.

Corsican militants have been blamed for a number of blasts in recent months in Marseille and nearby Aix-en-Provence. The February assassination of France’s top administrator on the island sparked a new crackdown by authorities.

Police in Marseille have been on alert for attacks ahead of the World Cup soccer championship in France from June 10 to July 12. Seven of the matches are being played in Marseille.

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