Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Police are investigating an act of vandalism targeting a statue of Argentina's patron saint in a Falkland Islands memorial cemetery where the remains of 237 Argentine soldiers are buried.
The case and the statue of the Virgin of Lujan in the cemetery in Darwin, east Falkland, was damaged. police said. After the vandalism, Argentina's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it presented a document to the British embassy "expressing the Argentine government's repudiation of these acts and requesting their immediate clarification."
Argentina and Great Britain briefly went to war over the Falkland Islands in 1982. The islands have been a British territory since 1833 and the majority of the island's 3,000 citizens wish to remain under British rule. Argentina still refers to the islands as the Malvinas.
The contested waters are now being explored for oil and gas deposits, which has escalated tensions.
Argentina and Britain in December agreed to identify the remains of 123 Argentine soldiers killed in the two-month war. A total of 649 Argentine soldiers and 255 British soldiers lost their lives in the war.
"The damage to the monument ... is particularly regrettable in view of the recent signing by both governments over the instruments which, in collaboration of the Red Cross, will identify the Argentine soldiers in the cemetery of Darwin," the Ministry said in a statement issued Tuesday.
Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra said that identifying the remains is a "significant act in such a sensitive humanitarian issue [that] is not consistent with the intolerance and violence demonstrated by those who attacked the resting place of the Argentine fighters fallen in 1982."