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Vandals spray paint over Sikh WWI memorial

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Police have released CCTV images of two people they want to speak to over the vandalism of a Sikh First World War memorial unveiled ahead of Armistice Day.

The Lions of the Great War statue in Smethwick, Birmingham – built to mark the contribution and sacrifices of soldiers of all faiths to the British military – was targeted by vandals in the early hours of Friday.

It is the latest one of a number of monuments of its kind in the UK and had only been shown off for the first time five days earlier.

Police are treating the incident as racially aggravated criminal damage.

The words “sepoys no more” can be seen sprayed onto the wall beside the statue and – according to Birmingham Live – a thick black line has also been drawn through the words “Great War”.

Sepoy was a term used for soldiers in the British Indian Army.

Superintendent Martin Hurcomb, from Sandwell Police, said: “Officers are working closely with the congregation and management at the nearby Guru Nanak Sikh temple, as we understand that this attack has caused a lot of concern in the community.

“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.”

Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick worked with local sculptor Luke Perry and Sandwell Council on the 10ft-high statue and surrounding public space, which has been paved and adorned with seating and lighting.

The council said the statue “honours the sacrifices made by South Asian service personnel of all faiths from the Indian subcontinent who fought for Britain in the First World War and subsequent conflicts”.

:: Anyone who recognises the people or has any other information should contact police via live chat at west-midlands.police.uk between 8am to midnight, or call 101 anytime. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

(c) Sky News 2018: Vandals spray paint over Sikh WWI memorial