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Roma Block Highway in France


Roma have blocked a major highway in southwestern France Sunday to protest government raids on their illegal campsites.

More than 250 cars and caravans stopped traffic on a bridge and highway outside the city of Bordeaux causing major disruption during a holiday in France.

Officials say the Roma had been kicked out of a camp near the town of Anglet and were stopped from moving to an exhibition ground near Bordeaux, nearly 200 kilometers to the north, earlier Sunday.

The blockade was the Roma's first major protest since President Nicolas Sarkozy last month ordered police to destroy their camps and expel illegal Roma immigrants as a crime-fighting measure.

Mr. Sarkozy calls the camps a source of illegal trafficking and prostitution. He says they also exploit children and turn them into beggars.

Human rights groups call the policy racist. They say it lumps hundreds of thousands of traditionally nomadic French citizens with Roma who immigrated from Bulgaria and Romania. Many are suspected of coming to France illegally.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.

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