- Militant group will accept its identity as a French territory, the group says
- The separatist group has sought independence since 1976
After nearly 40 years, a militant group on the island of Corsica says it is abandoning its armed struggle for independence from France.
The banned National Liberation Front of Corsica, also known an FLNC, said Wednesday in a statement obtained by CNN affiliate France 3 that it had made the decision with no preconditions and had started the process of demilitarization.
The birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, Corsica is located in the Tyrrehenian Sea, part of the Mediterranean, between the coasts of France and Italy. It has been under French control since the 1700s.
The island has been plagued by terrorism -- including bombings, robberies, and assaults -- since 1976, with the FLNC in the throes of a long, low-intensity military campaign against French targets on the island.
In 1997, several banks and government offices were targeted in more than 50 bomb explosions in one day, for which FLNC claimed responsibility.
France's government launched a ferocious crackdown in Corsica after a top French official there was gunned down in 1998 on the street of Ajaccio. This spurred a series of nationalist protests, followed by a string of FLNC attacks against French targets.
A branch of the separatist group announced in 2003 that it would suspend its military actions. But attacks by FLNC continued, although with less frequency.