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£430m of paintings stolen in Paris

A lone thief has stolen five paintings worth a total of £430 million in an overnight raid on a Paris art museum.

The paintings, by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, George Braque, Amedeo Modigliani and Fernand Leger were taken from the Paris Museum of Modern Art, across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower.

Police have cordoned off the museum in one of the city's most popular tourist areas.

A single masked intruder was caught on a video surveillance camera entering the museum by a window and taking the paintings away, the Paris prosecutors said.

The paintings were Le Pigeon Aux Petits-Pois (The Pigeon With The Peas) by Picasso, Pastoral by Matisse, Olive Tree Near Estaque by Braque, Woman With A Fan by Modigliani and Still Life With Chandeliers by Leger.

Red-and-white tape surrounded the museum, where investigators were studying surveillance video. Signs on the doors said it was closed for technical reasons.

On a cordoned-off balcony behind the museum, police examined the broken window and empty painting frames. The paintings appeared to have been carefully removed from their frames, not sliced out.

A security guard at the museum said the paintings were discovered missing by a night watchman just before 7am.

Museum officials and police would not comment on reports that the alarm system had malfunctioned or been disabled.

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said he was "saddened and shocked by this theft, which is an intolerable attack on Paris's universal cultural heritage."