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Afghan museums to restore thousands of artefacts destroyed by Taliban amid optimistic US-Taliban peace talks Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Afghan museums to restore thousands of artefacts destroyed by Taliban amid optimistic US-Taliban peace talks

A soldier keeps watch at the site of the destroyed Buddhas in Bamiyan [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 August, 2019

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The painstaking process of restoring it's shattered historical artefacts mirrors Afghanistan's struggle to ensure lasting peace in the war-torn country.
Museum workers in Afghanistan are trying to restore the remains of ancient Buddhist artefacts that were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. The group's rampage that year destroyed over 2500 pieces in the Kabul Museum after claiming they were against Islamic values.

The 2001 cultural rampage included the demolition of the world’s largest standing Buddha statues in the northern province of Bamiyan, and continued with Taliban fighters entering and destroying artefacts in the Kabul Museum.

Read more: US finalises Afghanistan pullout as IS commits wedding massacre

“We could not prevent them. They were breaking all the locks, entering each room and smashing all items into pieces,” said Sherazuddin Saifi to the Washington Post, who remembers the day the Taliban arrived, and is currently part of the restoration team. “It was heartbreaking and horrific ... they destroyed their own history.”

More than 2500 statues were broken, some of which were ground into dust. Saifi said the restoration work could take a decade, but is happy to work on putting them back together.

The restoration process, which mirrors the country's current fragile situation, gathered momentum in 2004, during the period when the Taliban began to regroup.

A few hundred objects have been restored since then but the latest drive comes amid cautiously optimistic peace talks between the United States and the Taliban to end the 18 year conflict in the war-torn country. 

The two factions are close to striking a deal to end the devastating conflict, which will likely include the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, though few details have emerged from the year-long talks.

Meanwhile, the country still sees almost daily attacks from Islamist militants, including most recently a horrific attack on a wedding in Kabul that killed 63 people earlier this month.

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