A small gas bomb hit a police compound in Corsica overnight, officials said Monday, hours before French presidential front-runner Nicolas Sarkozy made a campaign stop on the Mediterranean island.
There was no apparent link between the explosion and Sarkozy's visit. The tough-on-crime candidate, leading polls ahead of Sunday's presidential runoff, said he ignored advice to cancel his trip after he heard about the bombing.
A gas bomb hit a compound housing police and their families in Montesoro in the northern part of the island, blackening the walls and damaging an electrical transformer, police said. No one was injured.
Visiting Porto-Vecchio in southern Corsica, Sarkozy expressed sympathy with the island.
Nationalists seeking more autonomy from Paris frequently target police and government buildings and summer homes of federal officials in overnight bombings designed to avoid casualties.
He suggested that as president, he would boost Corsica's ties to the mainland _ not loosen them.
"If I am elected, I will return very quickly because Corsica is suffering a sense of abandon," he said. He called the attackers "cowards who don't love Corsica."
The island has been a sore spot for Sarkozy since Corsicans rejected a 2003 referendum he championed as interior minister to give them more autonomy, in an embarrassing setback for the French government.
The craggy, brush-covered island _ birthplace of the emperor Napoleon and part of France since 1768 _ has been a security headache for years. Successive governments have struggled to end the violent campaign by Corsican separatists that started in the mid-1970s.
Eight small attacks have hit Corsica since the first round of presidential elections April 22, police said.
Outgoing Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie denounced the latest bombing. "No cause can justify such an attack against a police compound where families also live," her office said in a statement.