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Taliban go ahead and blast Buddha’s statues
(Kabul, March 1)

004-buddhadestruction.jpg (19726 bytes)

Heritage Killer: This undated picture shows an Afghan military truck parked under the shadow of a huge Buddha statue in the central province of Bamiyan. Afghanistan, a famous Buddhist center before Islamic conquerors invaded the country around 1,400 years ago, is famous for its two massive and ancient Buddha statues.

DISREGARDING INTERNATIONAL outcry over its decision to destroy the ancient Bamiyan Buddha statues and other heritage artefacts, Afghanistan's Taliban regime on Thursday began destroying the statues in various cities by using cannons and battle tanks to blast them.

Taliban Minister of Information and Culture Qudratullah Jamal said militiamen started wrecking the almost 2,000-year-old Buddhist masterpieces in the central province of Bamiyan, including the world's tallest standing Buddha measuring 165 feet, after sunrise.

"We will use all means, including cannon and tanks, to destroy the statues," the Taliban Minister said.

India termed the destruction of the statues as an "absolute outrage". An MEA spokesman said in New Delhi that the "Taliban are persisting with their obscurantist and medieval programme in destroying valuable cultural, historical and archaeological artefacts."

An edict announced on Monday by the militia's supreme leader, Mulla Mohammad Omar, calling for the destruction of all statues in line with "Islamic" laws, has shocked the world.

Appeals for their preservation have come from the US, France, Germany, Thailand, Japan, Sri Lanka, Iran, Pakistan, Germany, Russia, India and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Koichiro Matsuura, chief of Unesco, said he had convened an emergency meeting of members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

"They are destroying statues that the entire world considers to be masterpieces," Matsuura said.

Afghan Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil said the edict was irreversible. "Have you ever seen any decision of the Taliban reversed?" Mutawakil asked.


Updated: 1-3-2001

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