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Garden Gnome Liberation Front strikes Paris show

April 13, 2000
Web posted at: 8:25 a.m. EDT (1225 GMT)

PARIS -- The dormant Garden Gnome Liberation Front has sprung back to life, stealing about 20 gnomes during a nighttime raid on a Paris exhibition.

"We demand ... that garden gnomes are no longer ridiculed and that they be released into their natural habitat," the Front's Paris wing said in a statement following its weekend strike.

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France's first garden gnome exhibition in the exclusive Bagatelle park on the outskirts of the capital opened last month and has been a hit with the public as chic Parisians develop a taste for kitsch culture.

The Garden Gnome Liberation Front vanished from the public eye in 1997 after a northern French court handed its ringleader a suspended prison sentence and fined him for his part in the disappearance of around 150 gnomes.

The only suspected sighting of the organization since then was a mass suicide of gnomes at Briey in eastern France in September 1998, when 11 of them were found dangling by their necks under a bridge.

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."

Now, the sight of 2,000 of the gaudy, colorful creatures dotted around the Bagatelle gardens has clearly proved too big a temptation for the group to avoid.

It warned that it would strike again unless the show was closed and all the gnomes released.

Organizers told the daily Le Parisien that they had no intention of bowing to the Front's demands.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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