Egypt's archaeological sites are still being looted

Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 3 Mar 2011

An armed gang has attacked two antiquities storage units on the Giza plateau, snatching an undetermined number of artefacts

Following numerous attacks on antiquities sites during nationwide disturbances, an armed gang of around 60 thieves broke into two storehouses at the southern side of the ramp of the second pyramid of Khafre.

The thieves tied up the site’s six guards and a policeman and threatened to kill them. They succeeded to enter the storehouse, which is a plain rock hewn tomb. They broke the iron and wooden gates of the storage site, stealing several artefacts. The storage site included collections discovered in 1929 and 1986.

The Ministry of Antiquities is waiting for prosecutors to inspect the scene and is yet to make an inventory of the items remaining in the warehouses.

Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs Zahi Hawass said the army left archaeological sites when police were redeployed after having been withdrawn 28 January. But the police alone do not adequately protect monuments, which makes them vulnerable to robbery, he said.

Ali Al-Asfar, head of the Giza plateau area, said that the ministry has set up a committee to determine what items have been stolen. Hawass is calling on all Egyptian citizens to protect the country’s heritage.

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