"I could see the Taliban
soldiers firing anti-aircraft weapons at the two statues. That was three days ago,"
said Safdar Ali, a resident.
The news of the destruction was confirmed by the Taliban while ruling
out any hope of the preservation of the statues ahead of talks with UN special envoy
Pierre Lafrance who arrived in Kandahar on Sunday and began meetings with officials,
including the Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil.
Dismissing any possibility of dialogue on the issue, the Foreign
Minister said, "The edict (of Taliban's supreme leader Mulla Mohammad Omar) will be
implemented inshallah (God willing)
we would like to tell the Unesco envoy
that what we are doing is an internal issue and we do not want to confront the
Meanwhile, other statues throughout the country were also being
demolished with rockets, tanks and explosives, ridding the nation of the reminders of its
pre-Islamic past. Residents of central Bamiyan, where the two ancient statues of Buddha
hewn from a cliff face in the third and fifth centuries are located, said Taliban soldiers
began attacking the statues at least three days earlier.
Minister of Information and Culture Mawlawi Qudratullah Jamal said
while action against the statues had nothing to do with the regime's craving for
international recognition, the UN would have more influence in Kandahar if it did not
recognise the ousted government.
However, Lafrance said yesterday that there was still a "faint
glimpse of hope" that the some statues could be saved. In this regard, he cited
conflicting reports from the Taliban officials about the extent of destruction.
Elsewhere, Buddhism's most prominent leader, the Dalai Lama, said he
was "deeply concerned" about the Taliban's attempts to erase Afghanistan's
The G-8 countries also expressed "dismay and shock" at the
Meanwhile, journalists have been barred from visiting the Kabul Museum
and Bamiyan province.