An apparent mob of vandals attacked the North Carolina Republican Party (search) headquarters, causing minor smoke damage, breaking windows and leaving vulgar messages, police said.

Three people were arrested.

In addition to the damage, the vandals left a burned effigy depicting President Bush (search) and Sen. John Kerry (search), police said.

A police officer reported Friday night that about 100 people wearing masks and gloves were walking down a street near the headquarters, police Capt. D.S. Overman said.

Officers investigating that report found a second group "vandalizing and damaging" the GOP headquarters, said police Maj. D.R. Lane.

The vandalism was a "planned and orchestrated event," police spokesman Jim Sughrue said.

"This is not a political statement," Sughrue said. "A political statement is what we made Tuesday. This is a crime."

The officers found several spent fireworks, poster boards with slogans and spray-painted expletives on the walls. At least two windows were broken and police said it appeared that the vandals tried to put incendiary devices inside the building.

"The people who did this are sick," said Kevin Howell, communications director for the state Republican Party. "People don't understand that debate and elections are part of the process. This isn't how you act."

Scott Falmlen, executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party (search), also denounced those responsible for the incident.

The three people arrested were charged with malicious damage to property using an incendiary device, a felony, Lane said. They remained in custody Saturday afternoon in lieu of $50,000 bail each, a jail spokeswoman said.