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Sunday, 25 March, 2001, 09:00 GMT 10:00 UK
Sri Lanka to 'build' Bamiyan Buddhas
Bamiyan Buddha statue
Sri Lankans will get a scaled down replica
Sri Lankan Buddhists say they will build replicas of two ancient Buddha statues destroyed earlier this month by Afghanistan's Taleban rulers.

The private Maha Bodhi Society said it was hoping to receive public donations to create the replicas of the giant statues carved from a cliff face in central Bamiyan.

Bamiyan destruction
All that is left is a hole where the statues once stood
The organisation said it would initially build a scaled down version of the larger statue, which was 51 metres (170 feet) tall, so that succeeding generations would know what it looked like.

Sri Lanka, where Buddhism is the major religion, had earlier offered to finance an international operation to save the statues, which were more than 1,500 years old.

The destruction of the giant statues provoked widespread international condemnation and criticism from Muslim leaders around the world.

Buddha statue in Kabul museum
Sri Lanka is hoping to buy remaining relics
After the Taleban dynamited the monuments - claiming they were contrary to their Islamic beliefs - the Sri Lankan government offered to buy the rubble and any remains.

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake said he was also negotiating with other countries to buy other statues which remained undamaged in Afghanistan.

He said the cost was immaterial, as the statues were priceless and belonged to the whole of humanity.

It is not clear how many relics have been preserved.

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