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The BBC's David Loyn
"The news is just sinking in for western experts"
 real 56k

Monday, 19 March, 2001, 12:26 GMT
Footage shows Buddhas blast
Bamiyan destruction
The Taleban blew up the statues using dynamite
Dramatic pictures of the Taleban's destruction of ancient statues of Buddha in Afghanistan have been released.

Qatar's Al-Jazeera satellite television channel showed footage of Taleban forces blowing up the smaller of two massive statues carved into a cliff in the central province of Bamiyan.

Bamiyan destruction
Television pictures show a massive explosion...
Despite an international outcry, the Taleban destroyed several Buddhist artefacts around the country, arguing that they were un-Islamic.

Bamiyan's Buddhas were part of a rich cultural heritage dating back nearly 2,000 years and were considered among the finest examples of Greco-Indian art.

Gaping hole

Television pictures showed a massive explosion which shook the ground, followed by plumes of dust and smoke.

Bamiyan destruction
...and then a hole where the statues once stood
Unidentified voices could be heard crying "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) and "Ma Sha'Allah" (Whatever God Wills).

As the smoke cleared, it was evident that where the giant Buddhas had once stood, there was now a gaping big hole.

Taleban officials scrambled up into the crevice where the 125-foot figure once stood and the camera panned around to show a panoramic view of snow-capped mountains and terraced plains around a river bed.

Ritual slaughter

It took the Taleban nearly two weeks to act on an edict to destroy the giant statues.

On Monday the authorities began the ritual slaughter of 100 cows to atone for the delay - an order passed last week by the Taleban's reclusive supreme leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.


The slaughtered meat will be distributed to the poor residents of Kabul

Taleban official
Twelve cows were sacrificed in the capital Kabul - the rest will be slaughtered around the country.

A Taleban official told journalists: "Based on the order, the slaughtered meat will be distributed to the poor residents of Kabul and other areas.

"This is an atonement for the delay in destroying the Buddhas."

Outcry

The destruction of the Buddhas came in for strong criticism, especially from its neighbours, including India and Pakistan.

Several Muslim countries condemned the move, saying the Taleban's action was un-Islamic.

The Taleban also expelled the BBC correspondent in Kabul, Kate Clark, for broadcasting what it described as "biased" reports of the Bamiyan statues destruction.

Ms Clark said she believed the main reason for her expulsion was her filing of a report in which she said most Afghans opposed the statues' demolition.

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See also:

15 Mar 01 | South Asia
Afghan Buddha destruction revealed
12 Mar 01 | South Asia
Outcry as Buddhas are destroyed
14 Mar 01 | South Asia
Bosnia asks for ruined Buddhas
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