Apparent would-be bomber killed in southern France

A man who apparently planned to bomb a tax office in southern France on Sunday was killed when his explosive device detonated, police and fire officials said.

Police said the explosive charge was small and that a defect in the bomb's timer made it explode 20 minutes early.

The body of the young Corsican, who was previously unknown to police, was found near the tax office in the center of Aix-en-Provence. The pre-dawn explosion caused only slight damage to the building.

The man's motives were unclear. There were no immediate claims of responsibility.

A friend of the victim, a university student linked to Corsican nationalists, was detained at the Marseille-Provence airport for questioning, police said. Investigators are searching for another man also suspected of involvement in the incident.

The case was transferred from regional jurisdiction to the anti-terrorist unit in Paris, judicial officials said, AP reported. V.A.