A police source said that of the 575 Muslim gravestones at the site, 500 had been vandalised.

It had already been hit in April this year, when vandals desecrated 148 Muslim graves, hanging a pig's head from one tombstone and daubing slogans insulting France's Muslim justice minister.

Past incident

That attack came almost exactly a year after a similar incident in which neo-Nazi vandals painted swastikas on 52 of the cemetery's Muslim graves.

Two young men with neo-Nazi sympathies are awaiting trial over April's desecration. They deny involvement.

Inaugurated in 1925, the Notre Dame de Lorette cemetery houses the remains of about 40,000 soldiers, half of them in named graves.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslim soldiers from France's African colonies fought during World War I and tens of thousands were killed.

France is now home to Europe's largest Muslim community.