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BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian police were investigating vandalism at the childhood home of Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, which was painted with anti-Semitic graffiti.

Wiesel, an activist and writer, was born in the northwestern Romanian town of Sighetu Marmatiei. His family was deported to Auschwitz, where his mother and one of his sisters died. Wiesel and his father were later taken to Buchenwald, where his father died.

Wiesel survived to become an academic, a writer and political activist. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

His house in Sighetu Marmatiei, a protected building, was vandalised with anti-Semitic graffiti written in red paint on Friday night.

"At present, a police investigation is ongoing to identify the authors and press criminal charges," the county council said in a statement. "There are surveillance cameras in the area and the images will be analysed by the police, who already have a ring of suspects."

The Israeli embassy thanked local authorities for promptly removing the messages and said it hoped those responsible would be punished as soon as possible.

According to a 2004 report by a commission headed by Wiesel, between 280,000 and 380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews and thousands of Roma were killed by civilian and military authorities in Romania and areas they controlled during the war.

Romania was an ally of Nazi Germany until August 1944, when it changed sides. Much of the Jewish property seized during the war was later nationalised by the communist dictatorship that followed.

Romania has only in recent years begun to come to terms with its role in the extermination of Jews, admitting for the first time in 2003 that it took part. Sensitivity towards the Holocaust and knowledge of it remain patchy.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie, editing by Larry King)

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Reuters