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CRAV resurfaces with arson attacks

The militant winemaker group CRAV has resurfaced with arson attacks on roadside speed cameras and telephone network hubs in the south of France.

At 3.30am yesterday, two speed cameras, one in the Gruissan area, 10km southeast of Narbonne, another in Peyriac-sur-Mer, were destroyed by flames. The letters ‘CRAV’ (Regional Committee for Viticultural Action) were found daubed on signposts and the road around the scene.

Last week, 20,000 people in Narbonne were unable to use their mobile phones for over 24 hours after a similar arson attack on a telephone network hub in the town.

In both cases, according to regional newspaper Midi Libre, tyres were piled around the target of the attack and set alight.

‘These attacks are unacceptable,’ said regional prefect Gérard Lemaire. ‘The people behind these acts, which won’t help the issues one bit, are putting themselves on the fringes of society.’

The attacks do not bear the hallmarks of more staged CRAV actions which include the destruction of imported wines carried out in daylight in front of television cameras by self-styled commando groups of winemakers in balaclavas.

In 2005, former CRAV member Jean Huillet told decanter.com the acronym was being adopted by winemakers who were not formally part of the organisation. Huillet said a true CRAV attack could be recognised in ‘the quality of the action’.

Although no formal statement has been issued, the militant group is believed to be aggrieved by what it sees as a lack of help from the state. Many winemakers in the Languedoc-Roussillon region are facing bankruptcy.

Both attacks, say Midi Libre, coincide with visits by state representatives. Last week, Michel Barnier, the minister for agriculture and fisheries arrived in Carcassone. Today, Rachida Dati, minister of Justice, visits Narbonne.

Written by Oliver Styles

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