(Gravestones are seen damaged by an Islamist group in protest at the burning of the Koran by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, in Benghazi Military Cemetery February 24, 2012. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori )

Libya’s leadership has apologised after armed men smashed the graves of British and Italian soldiers killed during World War Two, in an act of vandalism that appeared to be directed against non-Muslims. Amateur video footage of the attack, posted on social networking site Facebook, showed men casually kicking over headstones in a war cemetery and using sledge hammers to smash a metal and stone cross.

One man can be heard saying: “This is a grave of a Christian” as he uprooted a stone headstone from the ground. Another voice in the footage says of the people buried in the cemetery: “These are dogs.”

(A gravestone is seen damaged by an Islamist group in protest at the burning of the Koran by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, in Benghazi Military Cemetery February 24, 2012. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori)

The attack happened in the eastern city of Benghazi, near where British and Commonwealth troops fought heavy battles against German and Italian forces during the 1939-45 war.