Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

Cyprus antiquities smuggling ring broken up

Antiquities seized by poilce in southern city of Limassol, Cyprus

Police in Cyprus have broken up a smuggling ring that was trying to sell stolen antiquities worth more than 11m euros (£9.6m), officials say.

Artefacts for sale include urns, silver coins and figurines, some of which are thought to be 4,000 years old.

Police are investigating whether an international network was involved.

Ten people have been detained and five others are being sought in what analysts say could be the largest such ring ever discovered in the country.

Antiquities seized by poilce in southern city of Limassol, Cyprus
Some items were from Cyprus and others from elsewhere

While many of the objects found came from Cyprus, others were thought to have been made elsewhere, antiquities officials said.

Police are studying the items in an attempt to determine their origins.

Some 110 officers were said to be co-operating with Greek authorities on the case, said Communications Minister Nicos Nicolaides, who added that it raised questions about security around Cyprus' historical sites.

"This is our heritage and the most precious things we have so they should be made safe," Mr Nicolaides was quoted as telling AFP news agency.

At a crossroads of the ancient world, a succession of armies and kingdoms put down roots and left their mark on Cyprus, including the Egyptians, Persians and Romans.

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