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Gnome freedom group strikes again

STRASBOURG, France -- A shadowy group campaigning for freedom for garden gnomes has struck again -- with more than 70 of the ornaments found on the steps of a French cathedral.

On Wednesday, motorists encountered around 100 garden gnomes on a roundabout.

The latest find came at the cathedral in the town of Saint-Die, northeastern France, La Liberte de L'Est newspaper reported.

A banner of the Gnome Liberation Front, which aims to "free" gnomes and "return them to the wild," was found at the scene.

Local police refused to comment on the latest incident, fearing a spiralling of gnome abductions in the area.

Some of the gnomes found on Wednesday were set up to spell out "Free the Gnomes."

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

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

The group 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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