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Buddha statue attacked in Pakistan

The historic statue is attacked for the second time in 20 days, damaging its head and shoulders, reports Kamal Siddiqi.

world Updated: Oct 01, 2007 03:58 IST
Kamal Siddiqi

The historic statue of Buddha in Pakistan’s Swat Valley was attacked for the second time in 20 days on Saturday night, damaging its head and shoulders. Militants have threatened that a third attack is imminent when they will “destroy it completely”.

Eyewitnesses said unidentified men calling themselves “religious warriors” arrived at the mountain site and drilled holes in the rock on which the statue is carved. They did not seem to be locals. The valley, part of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), is close to the Afghan border and tribal areas.

“The head and shoulders of the statue have been damaged. But considering the amount of explosives used, the damage is not great,” said Musa Khankel, local correspondent of The News. The Pakistan government has not yet issued any statement.

Khankhel, who said he met some of those involved, told HT over telephone: “They told me they will come again to complete the job. They were proud of what they had done. They said they considered it their religious duty.”

The seven-meter cross-legged Buddha was built during the Gandhara era between the 6th century BC and 11th century AD. A tourist site, it does not see too many visitors these days due to the deteriorating law and order situation, and is not used for religious purposes either.

The incident is reminiscent of the destruction of the ancient Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan.