A fire that badly damaged UNESCO headquarters here was set by arsonists in a deliberate attempt to destroy the entire building, police said Thursday. The fire raced through five floors in the south wing of the futuristic tri-cornered building in western Paris Wednesday night, destroying about 27,000 square feet of offices and some classified files.
''They meant business,'' an investigator said of the arsonists. ''It was meant for the whole building.''
The United States General Accounting Office had been due to start examining United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization documents soon as part of a congressional investigation triggered by President Reagan's decision to quit the organization at the end of this year.
UNESCO officials said some classified documents had been destroyed in the blaze but stressed that not all archives were stored in the area where the fire had started.
There was no indication if the documents destroyed were those of interest to the US investigators.