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Garden gnomes gather for freedom

STRASBOURG, France - More than 100 garden gnomes and other statues have been found assembled on a roundabout in eastern France, a police spokesman said.

Some were set up to spell out "Free the Gnomes," leading police to believe that the prank culprits are members of a group known as the Garden Gnome Liberation Front .

Residents around the town of Chavelot reported the miniatures stolen the night before. Soon after they were found set up on the roundabout.

The spokesman said: "It was a bit like a giant creche. Everything had been carefully set up."

The group, which advocates "freeing" gnomes and "returning them to the wild," gained public attention in the 1990s.

But after a ringleader was fined and sent to prison in 1997 for his part in the disappearance of 150 gnomes, the group faded from the limelight.

In 1998 it came back into the public eye after staging a mass "suicide" with 11 gnomes dangling by their necks under a bridge at Briey in eastern France.

A letter found nearby said: "When you read these few words we will no longer be part of your selfish world, where we serve merely as pretty decoration."

A Paris garden exhibition was the group's target last year, where they stole about 20 gnomes during a night raid.

• Garden Gnome Liberation Army

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