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The BBC's Kate Clarke
"All semblance of the Buddhas has now been erased"
 real 28k

Award-winning Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid
says by supporting the Taleban, the Pakistan government is creating enemies
 real 28k

Monday, 26 March, 2001, 12:05 GMT 13:05 UK
Reporters see wrecked Buddhas
Bamiyan Buddha statue
Statues were among Asia's great archaeological treasures
The Taleban authorities in Afghanistan have shown foreign journalists the results of their demolition of two giant Buddhist statues earlier this month.

The journalists said the taller of the two statues, which were cut into the mountainside in central Bamiyan province between the second and fifth centuries AD, had been completely destroyed.

Only part of an elbow of the shorter Buddha remained.

Taleban officials stand in front of a completely destroyed Buddha in Bamiyan
Rubble is all that remains of the Buddhas
Taliban officials said it had taken 20 days to destroy the statues, which they saw as idolatrous and contrary to Islam.

Abdul Haidi, the Taleban commander who oversaw the destruction, told reporters: "First, we destroyed the small statue. It was a woman. Then we blew up her husband, the big statue.,

"We used explosive material to blow them up."

The destruction of the two Buddha statues caused international outrage.

The larger of the two statues - which stood at 53 metres (175 feet) - was believed to have been the world's tallest standing Buddha. The other statue measured 38 metres (120 feet).

Both were among Asia's great archaeological treasures.

Heavy fighting

Monday saw heavy fighting in Bamiyan province between the Taleban and its opponents.

Haji Mohammed Mohaqiq, an opposition commander, said his forces were on the southern and western limits of Bamiyan town.

"We are locked in an exchange of shells and Bamiyan's airport is under the range of our fire," he told reporters by satellite phone from the area.

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See also:

25 Mar 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka to 'build' Bamiyan Buddhas
11 Mar 01 | South Asia
Giant Buddha statues 'blown up'
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