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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 April, 2003, 22:09 GMT 23:09 UK
Iraqi pictures seized in Jordan
A US army tank guards the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad
Hundreds of artefacts have been stolen from Iraq's national museum
Jordanian customs officials say they have seized 42 paintings believed to have been looted from Iraq's national museum.

The paintings were seized earlier this week from unidentified journalists entering from Iraq at the al-Karameh border post, 420 kilometres (260 miles) north-east of the Jordanian capital Amman, Jordan's al-Dustour newspaper reported.

The head of Jordan's customs department, Mahmoud Quteishat, said border officials had been instructed to take the necessary measures to seize any stolen artefacts from the Iraq.

The latest seizures are part of a massive hunt for artefacts - some of which date back 10,000 years - looted from Baghdad's museum.

Part of beheaded sculpture

Reuters news agency quoted Mr Quteishat as saying 41 photographs depicting the life of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein were also confiscated from a Western traveller at al-Karameh.

Mr Quteishat said the traveller, who was not identified, admitted having stolen the items from Iraq's national museum.

"They are rare pictures of the former Iraqi president taken during his years of exile in Syria and Egypt and other pictures of his childhood home along with audiences with world leaders and more recent pictures," Mr Quteishat said.

Organised looting

Anger is mounting across the world at the loss of the ancient statues, manuscripts and other treasures.

Three White House cultural advisers have resigned in protest at the failure of US forces to prevent the looting of the museum.

80,000 cuneiform tablets with world's earliest writing
Bronze figure of Akkadian king - 4,500 years old
Silver harp from ancient city of Ur - 4,000 years old
Three-foot carved Sumerian vase - 5,200 years old
Headless statue of Sumerian king Entemena - 4,600 years old
Carved sacred cup - 4,600 years old

As well as the national museum in Baghdad, a museum in Mosul has been looted.

And Baghdad's Islamic Library, which housed ancient manuscripts including one of the oldest surviving copies of the Koran, was ravaged by fire.

The UN's cultural agency Unesco has called the loss and destruction already suffered "a disaster". It has urged Iraq's neighbours and the international police, Interpol, to watch out for any Iraqi items which might have been stolen from its museums.

Unesco chief Koichiro Matsuura also called for a "heritage police" to be set up in Iraq to protect the country's archaeological treasures, as experts said organised gangs were behind much of the looting.

Thousands of Iraqi artefacts were also looted during the Gulf War in 1991.

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