Europe

Outrage after General de Gaulle's tomb damaged by vandals

The vandalised tomb Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Officials say the cross will be replaced by the end of next week

Two suspects are being sought after vandals damaged the tomb of former French leader General Charles de Gaulle, sparking outrage.

The authorities said a man stepped onto the grave and toppled a one-and-a-half metre cross at its head, which broke.

The incident happened on Saturday, when the French Resistance against Nazi Germany was being commemorated.

Thousands of people visit the site each year to pay their respects to a towering figure in 20th Century France.

General de Gaulle led the French Resistance during World War Two, founded the Fifth Republic in the 1950s and led the country for a decade until 1969.

He died in 1970 and is buried in the village of Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises in the northern département of Haute-Marne.

Image caption General de Gaulle led the French Resistance against Nazi Germany
Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption The tomb pictured in 2015 with its cross intact

Police said the tomb, which is under continuous video surveillance, had been damaged by a man in his 30s who climbed on to it and kicked the base of the cross until it fell.

He then left the cemetery and got into a car containing another man who is also being searched for.

The rest of the tomb was not damaged and the cross would be replaced by the end of next week, officials said.

Numerous politicians have posted their reactions on Twitter. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said he was in "sadness and consternation" and described the vandalism as an "act against France".

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy said the vandals had "insulted France and its values".

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