Dozens of graves defaced at cemetery in northern France: Government

People eye the Jewish cemetery on which hundreds of Jewish graves were desecrated in Sarre-Union, France, on Feb 17, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
People eye the Jewish cemetery on which hundreds of Jewish graves were desecrated in Sarre-Union, France, on Feb 17, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA

PARIS (AFP) - Dozens of graves have been defaced in a cemetery in northern France, the Interior Minister said on Tuesday, just days after the vandalism of hundreds of Jewish tombs sparked outrage across the country.

"Several dozen crucifixes were moved, some of them turned over and planted in the ground," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement, expressing his "indignation".

The vandalism in the small coastal village of Tracy-sur-Mer on the coast of Normandy comes just days after some 250 tombs were defaced in a Jewish cemetery in the northeast of the country. The damage caused a wave of indignation in France, which is still reeling from bloody attacks by Islamist gunmen in Paris last month and after anti-Semitic attacks in Copenhagen over the weekend.

"To profane is to insult all religions and defile the Republic," French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday during a ceremony at the Jewish cemetery in the eastern Alsace region.

Mr Cazeneuve said the police would begin investigations to identify the culprits of the latest vandalism on Wednesday morning.

"Everything will be done to identify, challenge and bring to justice the perpetrators of these outrageous acts that violate our values and the respect that seals our living together," he said.