France to dismantle illegal Gypsy camps: minister

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France's interior minister said Wednesday half the country's illegal Gypsy camps would be dismantled within three months and Bulgarian and Romanian Gypsies will be sent back home if they break the law.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux made the announcement after a meeting of ministers called by President Nicolas Sarkozy in the wake of violence between Gypsies and police.

Hortefeux vowed Gypsies who committed offences would undergo "virtually immediate" deportation to their countries of origin. Most Gypsies in France are thought to be from Romania and Bulgaria, which both joined the EU in 2007.

Sarkozy warned ahead of the meeting that some members of the minority pose security "problems", in the wake of clashes between police and Gypsies in Saint-Aignan, central France.

© 2010 AFP

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