Looters pillage Egyptian antiquities warehouses

Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:16am GMT
 

ISMAILIA, Egypt Jan 31 (Reuters) - Looters have pillaged a number of warehouses containing ancient Egyptian artefacts, stealing and damaging some of them, archaeologists and warehouse workers said on Monday.

A group of looters attacked a warehouse at the Qantara Museum near the city of Ismailia on the Suez Canal that contained 3,000 objects from the Roman and Byzantine periods, a source at the tourism police said.

Many of the objects had been found in Sinai by the Israelis after they occupied the peninsula during the 1967 war with Egypt, and had only been recently returned to Egypt.

A worker at the warehouse said the looters had said they were searching for gold. The worker told them there was no gold but they continued to pillage the storehouse, smashing some items and taking others.

An archaeologist said warehouses near the pyramids of Saqqara and Abu Sir were also looted.

"At other locations, guards and villagers were able to successfully repel gangs of looters," the archaeologist said.

On Friday, looters broke into the Cairo museum, home to the world's greatest collection of Pharaonic treasures, smashing several statues and damaging two mummies, while police battled anti-government protesters on the streets. [ID:nLDE70S0KB]

The culture, monuments, temples and pyramids of ancient Egypt have left a lasting legacy on the world and are a major draw for the country's tourism industry. (Reporting by Yousri Mohamed in Ismailia and Patrick Werr in Cairo)

 
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