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Afghanistan halts suspected reconstruction of ancient Buddhas

Published on Feb 12, 2014 9:37 PM

KABUL (REUTERS) - Afghanistan has halted conservation work at a site once occupied by ancient Buddha statues destroyed by the Taleban because the team involved is suspected of secretly trying to rebuild one of the statue's feet, the United Nations said.

Any attempt to rebuild the statues without official permission could lead to the site losing its World Heritage status.

The Taleban's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, decreed in early 2001 that two ancient giant Buddha statues in the valley in Bamiyan province were un-Islamic and ordered they be destroyed. They were blown up with dynamite the next month.

The German wing of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) had been working alongside the UN in the valley, aiming to reinforce the cliff into which the Buddha statues were carved.

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