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Hindu Press International
Looting Of Kabul Museum
on 2001/3/11 22:46:02 ( 773 reads )


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KABUL, AFGHANISTAN, Sat, 23 Sep 1995 - This article in the Far Eastern Economic Review details how the National Museum of Afghanistan was first damaged by rocket fire in May, 1993, and then looted. The rockets caused a fire which melted supporting beams holding up the ornate vaulted roof, sending it crashing down on the upper galleries. The next day, Najibulla Popol, the 37-year-old museum curator, and a few staff members salvaged what they could to vaults in the museum's basement. Factional fighting had been swirling around the museum since the mujahideen captured Kabul in April 1992. In the months following the first rocket attack, mujahideen soldiers repeatedly looted their contents guided by detailed instructions from Afghan and Pakistani antiquities dealers. In January 1994, United Nations agency Habitat bricked up the museum's windows and repaired the doors, but looters broke in. Leading a party of journalists in 1995, museum director Popol showed destruction and mayhem, stacks of empty metal trays that had held one of the largest and oldest coin collections in the world-some 40,000 coins-covered the floor. Less-important artifacts were left smashed on the floor, while those too heavy to carry such as life-sized statues of Kushan warriors from 200 BC and the largest Buddhas were badly damaged. According to Sayed Delju Hussaini, Afghan minister of information and culture, 90% of the museum's collection has been looted. "It was one of the richest museums in the entire region, covering 50,000 years of history in Afghanistan and Central Asia," Hussaini laments. The breaking of all remaining statues in this museum by the Taleban in the last few weeks completes the museum's demise.




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