The headstones of 42 British soldiers who fell in combat in the First World War have been desecrated in what police in northern France believe may have been the work of Islamist attackers. Police and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission initially believed that the damage to the Albuera cemetery last Saturday in Bailleul-sir-Berthoult, near Arras, was caused by local vandals after a drunken night out. No slogans admitting responsibility or proclaiming any cause were found. But the scale and nature of the attack are such that police now refuse to rule out the possibility that Muslim extremists were responsible. At least one Molotov cocktail was used, and the attackers even set fire to a register of war dead and a visitors' book. Although there have been more serious desecrations of Jewish graveyards in France in recent years in a sign of rising tension between the country's large north African and Jewish communities, this was the worst incident to have taken place at a First World War cemetery. The cost of making good the damaged items is put at £20,000.