French Muslim Politician's Car Bombed

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A bomb destroyed the car of a regional administrator in eastern France on Sunday, and there were fears he was targeted because he is the first foreign-born and Muslim person to hold the post. No one was injured in the blast.

The explosion at about 4:30 a.m. in the western city of Nantes (search) shattered nearby windows, woke up neighbors, and left the car in flames, said Gerard Davergne, an assistant prosecutor.

The owner of the car, newly named Prefect Aissa Dermouche (search), was at home when the blast occurred. The car was parked nearby, authorities from the Loire-Atlantique (search) region said.

Dermouche, 57, the director of a business school in Nantes, was named Wednesday to the post of prefect for France's eastern Jura region. A prefect is the highest state representative of a French region.

His appointment came amid a heated debate over French affirmative action policies aimed at giving immigrants a better place in society. Dermouche was born in Algeria.

"There are no leads for the moment, and no claim of responsibility," said Nantes prosecutor Jean-Marie Huet. Dermouche had received no threats prior to the blast, he said.

President Jacques Chirac demanded that "those behind this very serious act be pursued and harshly punished," his office said.

Justice Minister Dominique Perben told reporters he was outraged. "Symbols of the republic and the authority of the state cannot be attacked," he said.

Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy telephoned Dermouche to offer their support, according to statements from their office.

Preliminary findings showed the bomb was placed near the engine of Dermouche's car, Davergne said.

Officials said they were boosting security around Dermouche and his family.