'Race hate' vandal attack on Smethwick war memorial

War memorialImage source, West Midlands Police
Image caption,
Police want to speak to two men after a war statue was vandalised

A centenary war memorial has been vandalised in what police are investigating as "racially-aggravated criminal damage".

The 10ft (3m) tall statue of a Sikh solider was sprayed with graffiti in Smethwick.

It was daubed with the words "Sepoys no more", referring to Indian soldiers who served in the British Indian Army or for other European armies.

Officers have released CCTV images of two people they want to question.

The £30,000 statue was targeted on 9 November after it was unveiled just five days earlier.

It had been dedicated in honour of 1.5 million Indian service personnel who fought in World War One.

A black line was also scored through the words "of the Great War" and replaced by "1 jarnoil" at the memorial in High Street.

CCTV images released by West Midlands Police on Monday show two hooded figures next to the graffiti.

Image source, West Midlands Police
Image caption,
The pair were captured on CCTV by the vandalised statue

Supt Martin Hurcomb said: "Work continues to try to understand the reasons behind what happened and identify whoever is responsible. I'd urge anyone who recognises the people in this CCTV to get in touch as soon as possible.

"Local officers continue to work closely with communities and have increased police presence in the area to provide reassurance and be on hand to answer any questions or concerns that people may have."

Jatinder Singh, president of the nearby Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick temple, which commissioned the Lions of the Great War statue, said he felt "disappointed".

The graffiti was cleaned off almost immediately, Sandwell Council said.

Image source, Sandwell Council
Image caption,
The statue was created by Black Country sculptor Luke Perry and was unveiled on 4 November

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