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KABUL, AFGHANISTAN, March 1, 2001: Despite international outrage, Taliban troops are destroying all statues including two 5th-century statues of Buddha carved into a mountainside in Bamiyan, which they say are contrary to Islam, in the capital of Kabul as well as in other cities, said Qadradullah Jamal, Taliban's information minister. "All the statues all over the country will be destroyed,'' he said. Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, said the tenets of Islam forbids images, such as paintings and pictures. There are an estimated 6,000 pieces of Buddhist art in the Kabul Museum. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan pled for the preservation of the art in "the spirit of tolerance enjoined upon by Islam as well as respect for international sentiment in this regard." The Russian and German governments joined in the criticism but Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil said the Islamic militia was unmoved by international concern. The Afghan leaders are now saying they are destroying the statues in response to the 1994 destruction of Babri Masjid by Hindus in India. However, this explanation appears to be an afterthought.