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Arsonists target Cornish housing developments

Police probe possible separatist link

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Police suspect Cornish separatists are behind three arson attacks on housing development sites in Truro and Penryn during the last week, the Cornishman reports.

On 29 August, a show home on a Wainhomes estate in Penryn was attacked, followed over the next two days by incidents at a Cornish Homes portable cabin in Malpas and a Persimmon Homes office in Truro. The Penryn fire is believed to have been started by a fire bomb thrown through french windows at the back of the building. The fire got no further than the kitchen and a neighbour extinguished it before emergency services arrived.

The Persimmom Homes attack gutted the company's sales office. Assistant Divisional Officer Dave King, who attended the fire, said: "When we arrived at the scene there was a fireball within the building which we had to extinguish. The fire was well developed."

King added: "The sniffer dog has since found traces of an accelerant like white spirit and the police are now investigating arson."

Truro police Inspector Mark Richards said: "The natural assumption would be to think this was an act by a Cornish nationalist group. While we are linking the three crimes, no such group has claimed responsibility for the fires."

Fire Brigade Divisional Officer Steve Brown warned: "Arson is a very serious and potentially life-threatening offence. By starting fires deliberately you are putting the public and our firefighters in danger. Arson will not be tolerated and our message to the offenders is: you will be caught."

Cornwall has of late witnessed the mobilisation of militant separatist group the Cornwall National Liberation Army (CNLA) - an alliance of An Gof, "a secretive group which claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in the 1980s, notably on St Austell courthouse", and the Cornish Liberation Army.

The CNLA, dubbed the "Ooh-Arrr-A" by the British tabloid press - has threatened celebrity chefs Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver, both of whom have restaurants in Cornwall, and torched a disused Redruth brewery as part of its campaign to drive "incomers" from the county.

The organisation claims to have "substantial funding" from "other Celtic nations as well as the United States" and the technical assistance of "a member of the Free Wales Army who were responsible for the burning of English holiday homes" ®

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