French fire bombers hit 'invaders' from Britain
Daily Mail | July 9, 2007
IAN SPARKS and TIM FINAN
Fears are mounting of a summer campaign of violence against British expats by extremists in Brittany.
Three English-owned homes in the region have been attacked in recent weeks.
In one incident, vandals torched a family's car parked outside their cottage in the village of Callac.
Another British-owned car was set alight in a nearby village, and a home was broken into and ransacked on the same night.
In all three attacks, thugs also pelted the homes with eggs.
Afterwards, a source in the regional capital, Rennes, revealed that anti-terrorist agents for the Renseignements Generaux intelligence service have been monitoring known Breton nationalist groups in western Brittany.
One such group, the Armee Breton Revolutionnaire, was in the past linked to the IRA.
The thousands of Britons buying cheap rural homes into Britanny over the past ten years have sent property prices soaring. Many locals complain they can no longer afford to get on the property ladder.
Just two years ago, the entire Brittany village of Bourbriac staged a mass protest at the British 'invaders'.
Their complaints include that the newcomers do not integrate into the community, sponge off the generous French welfare state and hire cowboy English builders for renovation work, rather than local tradesmen.
Estate agents selling homes to Brits are regularly daubed with vile graffiti insulting foreign residents. During
the Callac attack, Darren and Linsey Widd, were asleep in the cottage with their two-year-old daughter, Chloe.
They awoke to plumes of smoke billowing in their bedroom window and fled in panic.
Mrs Widd, who runs a local village restaurant with her husband, said: 'The heat from the blaze was so intense it was melting the plastic blinds on the ground-floor windows.
"As Darren was trying to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, the heat snapped the handbrake cable and the burning car rolled down the hill and crashed into our elderly French neighbour's car."
Firefighters later found a charred rag stuffed into the Renault Espace's fuel cap. Mrs Widd, from Yorkshire, who served with Mr Widd in Basra before emigrating, added: "What shocked us most was there was no warning.
"We had the usual bureaucratic problems setting up our business when we arrived a year ago, but the locals were very friendly."
A Callac gendarmerie spokesman said: "The attack was definitely directed towards the English and is being investigated. There are incidents of this kind every now and then and we qualify them as "acts of incivility"."
British expat and local farmer Ray Constable, 47, said: "I can't understand what their problem is. We have breathed new life and money into the area."
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