An Assassin, a Hero

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Thousands of protesters clashed with police in Corsica this week following a prison assault of a Corsican nationalist figure that sparked anger on the French Mediterranean island, Agence France-Presse reported.

Authorities said that more than 60 people, including 44 police officers, were injured in the skirmishes, which witnesses described as “urban guerilla war.”

The unrest began earlier this month following the severe beating of Yvan Colonna, who is serving a life sentence in mainland France for the 1998 assassination of Corsica’s top regional official, Claude Erignac.

Colonna has been in a coma since the incident, and many Corsicans blamed the French government for the attack.

The controversial figure is seen as a hero in the island’s fight for independence. Since his 2003 arrest, he has been demanding to be transferred to Corsica to serve out his term but the French government had rejected the request.

But following the turmoil, French officials said they would permit the transfer of two other convicted members of the hit team that killed Erignac.

On Monday, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said he will fly to Corsica for a two-day visit this week, to speak with political groups on the island.

Corsica has been part of France since the 18th century and remains a popular tourist attraction because of its unspoiled coastline and beautiful beaches.

Even so, there have been ongoing conflicts between the island’s independence-seeking nationalist groups and the central government, as well as frequent assassinations involving Corsica’s different political factions.

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