The graves of 40 German World War I soldiers were vandalized in a military cemetery in northern France on Saturday, the eve of the 50th anniversary of the two countries' official reconciliation following World War II on July 8, 1962, BBC News reported.
The wooden crosses, which marked the graves of soldiers aged 14 to 18, were pulled up from the grounds at Saint-Etienne-a-Arnes cemetery, according to the BBC. Some of the crosses were later burned.
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"An inquiry is under way and all means are being employed to find those responsible for this terrible desecration," France's interior ministry said in a statement, according to the BBC.
Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are in the French city Reims Sunday to mark the anniversary, according to Agence France Presse. On Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called that renewal of relations one of the world's most important, Agence France Presse reported.
Hollande strongly denounced the vandals, whose motivation is unclear, the Associated Press reported.
"No dark forces, much less foolish acts, can alter the deep movement of Franco-German friendship," said Hollande, according to the AP.
Officials were unclear if the desecrations were a "determined action" or just the work of "irresponsible people", the BBC reported. There were no signs of any political message around the graves.
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