The Malawi National Museum in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya was severly damaged and looted by rioters during deadly clashes that erupted across the country.
On Wednesday, Egypt witnessed nationwide violence that left over 500 dead and thousands injured after police cleared sit-ins by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Cairo’s Nasr City district and Al-Nahda Square in Giza.
During Wednesday’s clashes, pro-Morsi protesters allegedly broke into the museum property, adjacent to the town police station and the Malawi council building, and announced their sit-in in the museum’s garden, said the antiquities ministry in a statement issued on Thursday.
Security guards were beaten and injured by some protesters who were attempting to break into the museum building, a security guard who preferred to remain anonymous told Ahram Online.
The pro-Morsi protesters tore down the museum’s internal gate and broke into its halls, damaging and stealing some of its treasured artefacts. The looters also break down the museum surveillance cameras and robbed some of the stationary of the museum administrative department, according to the statement.
No police were reportedly present at the museum, said the same anonymous source.
"It is a great loss and I am really saddened by what has happened to such a museum," Minister of State of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim told Ahram Online.
Ibrahim added that an archaeological committee is inspecting the losses and identifying the number of stolen artefacts to provide a list of the missing objects and send it to the prosecutor general to begin investigations.
The list of stolen artefacts will also be distributed among all Egyptian ports to prevent any smuggling attempts, the antiquities minister continued.
International museums, UNESCO and the INTERPOL are planning to put these artefacts on the Red List to prevent its trading and to return the items safely to Egypt.
The Malawi National Museum internal gate has been restored and put back to its original position.
Despite such incident, antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim decided to open all museums and archaeological sites as normal but will close two hours earlier than usual, except for the Malawi National Museum, which will remain closed.