According to local reports, they damaged nearly 100 Christian graves in the Breuil cemetery in Cognac, destroying mostly crosses but also smashing a number of statues, plaques and representations of angels and of Virgin Mary.
The desecration of the cemetery took place just days before the Christian celebration of All Souls Day on 2nd November, when Catholics visit the graves of their loved ones to pray for the repose of their souls.
The mayor of Cognac, Michel Gourinchas, went to the graveyard Wednesday to survey the extent of the damage, describing the incident as "lamentable" and "shameful."
The mayor said he hopes the incident was nothing more than an act of gratuitous and foolish vandalism without anti-Christian motivation.
"It is obviously the desire to break things, but it is the police investigation that will determine the nature of the faithless, lawless individuals who come to desecrate objects in a cemetery. I hope there is no political or religious connotation," the mayor said.
"I hope, even if it is abominable, that it is only petty individuals who have done this to show how clever they are," he said.
Anti-Christian desecration has been on the rise in France, although state officials have been reluctant to acknowledge the religious nature of the acts.
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