British war graves desecrated in France

11th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Vandals daubed Nazi graffiti on British war graves in northern France, prompting a strong condemnation from President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday in a letter to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.

Police said they found swastikas and other graffiti including "SS" and the word "sex" in pink paint on a dozen graves of British soldiers at the northern cemetery of Loos-en-Gohelle, the site of a major battle in 1915.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission sent a special team to clean the graves.

Sarkozy expressed "indignation and consternation" in a letter to the queen, branding the desecrations "all the more revolting" since they came a week before he visits London for a commemoration of French wartime resistance.

"I condemn with the greatest firmness this horrible act and ask you to pass on my feelings of sympathy and solidarity, and those of the French people, to the families concerned and to all of the British people," Sarkozy wrote.

Numerous desecrations of Jewish, Muslim and German graves have been reported in France in recent years.

A prosecution official said the attack on the British graves did not seem to have been politically motivated.

Sarkozy wrote: "I hope the guilty parties are convicted with the severity appropriate to the seriousness of the deed they have committed."

The vast Loos cemetery near Lens in northern France contains the graves of 2,387 soldiers, including 39 Canadians, who were killed fighting on the British side against German forces in World War I.

John Kipling, the son of British writer Rudyard Kipling, was among those who died in the 1915 battle when he was 18. His grave was not touched.

© 2010 AFP

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