Libyan Rebels Destroy Digger Graves And Sparks Government Call For Manhunt

THE Libyan Government says it has tracked down and detained a group of young people believed responsible for a disgraceful attack on a graveyard of Commonwealth war heroes.

Benghazi cemetery

THE Libyan Government says it has tracked down and detained a group of young people believed responsible for a disgraceful attack on a graveyard of Commonwealth war heroes.

Armed extremists waged their attack on the Benghazi cemetery, in the east of Libya, smashing up 198 graves and then uploading their rampage to YouTube.

Dressed in combat gear and armed with guns, the extremists filmed themselves rampaging through the Benghazi War Cemetery, in the country's north, as they smashed headstones and destroyed the Cross of Remembrance with a sledgehammer.

They can be heard laughing and cursing the fallen servicemen as they embarked on the trail of destruction at the cemetery which holds the remains of 48 Australians.

Benghazi cemetery

The vandals, who boasted of the destruction by putting their video on the internet, can be heard saying "Destroy that cross, they are dogs" and "We begin with this one then we'll take care of that other one. We won't leave any left".

Prime Minister Julia Gillard's office said it was seeking to determine if any Australian graves had been destroyed.

"The Government is appalled and disgusted by the reports and condemns without reservation this act of desecration," Ms Gillard's office said.

"Should the reports prove accurate, we call on the Libyan interim government to investigate and hold to account those responsible."

Derek Roylance, who represents ex-serviceman on the Canberra Cemeteries Authority, slammed the attack.

"These people have given their life for these countries and for this to happen is just sickening," he said.

National RSL president Ken Doolan said that the Commonwealth needed to do all it could to protect war graves overseas.

Benghazi cemetery

"Any desecration of war graves should be abhorred. It's beyond unconscionable," he said.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission pledged to restore the graves.

Opposition veterans' affairs spokesman Michael Ronaldson said Australians would be incensed at such vandalism.

"Given our fight for freedom for Libya, I think everyone would be very much hoping the majority of Libyan people themselves will be ashamed by this desecration," he said.

Reports from London said the attacks could be payback after the Koran was burned last month at a NATO base in Afghanistan. The cemetery contains 1051 graves, including those of British, New Zealand, South African and Indian servicemen.