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Taliban Opens Statue-Free Museum in Afghanistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan—The Taliban regime unlocked Afghanistan's main museum in the capital Kabul Thursday after destroying all statues which it deemed "idolatrous."

"The Kabul museum has been re-opened free of statues and idols," the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) quoted the radical Islamic movement's Information Minister, Qudratullah Jamal, as saying.

Jamal confirmed that the Islamic militia had demolished all statues including two towering Buddhas in central Bamiyan province and in the remaining 90 percent of Afghanistan which is under its control.

"All statues have been smashed. The broken pieces of the statues will never been given nor sold to anyone," he said.

Despite international calls to save Afghanistan's ancient sculptures, Taliban troops earlier this month destroyed the famed Bamiyan Buddhas, which were cut into a cliff some 1,400 years ago, after their top leader Mulla Muhammad Omar decreed destruction of all pre-Islamic statues.

Jamal said there were about 3,000 artifacts in the Kabul Museum. "We are preserving all artifacts except statues which are un-Islamic," he said.

The Islamic regime had seized artifacts and relics in Laghman, Kunar, Parwan, and other provinces, he said, adding that these relics were being shifted to the Kabul Museum.