Argentina war cemetery vandalised in Falklands

Image of Virgin Mary behind shattered glass near Darwin in the Falklands (Picture released by Commission of Families of Fallen soldiers 30 Jul 2012)
Image caption The figure of the Virgin Mary was removed until the shrine was repaired

The Argentine war cemetery in the Falklands, where the bodies of more than 200 soldiers are buried, has been vandalised.

The glass that protects a figure of the Virgin Mary at the cemetery has been smashed and shattered.

The Falkland Islands government has condemned the action and has said the police are investigating.

Families of the Argentine war dead have described the attack as an "act of sacrilege".

The Virgin figure has been removed until the shrine is repaired.

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Media captionDick Sawle, Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly, describes the damage

Falklands legislator Dick Sawle appealed for anyone on the islands with any information to contact the police.

"Clearly we condemn any action of this sort and very much regret that this might have happened," he said in a statement.

The commission representing the relatives of Argentina's fallen in the 1982 conflict sent a note to the British ambassador in Buenos Aires, John Freeman, and Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman.

"We believe this act reflects escalating hostility by certain British sectors who are influential locally," the note said.

The Argentine foreign ministry issued a statement demanding that the UK government mount an immediate and impartial investigation.

The statement also called on Britain to "end its continuous display of arms, submarines and nuclear capabilities, in violation of international treaties".

The cemetery, which lies on a hilltop near Darwin, was the renewed focus of attention earlier this year when ceremonies were held to mark the 30th anniversary of the war.

Two hundred and fifty-five UK servicemen and three Falklands civilians died in the war.

An estimated 650 Argentines were also killed.

Argentina claims sovereignty of the islands which it calls the Malvinas, accusing Britain of colonialism.

Britain says Argentina should respect the wishes of the local population.

"As long as they wish to remain a British territory, that is the way it will stay," Prime Minister David Cameron said earlier this year.

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