Home | News    Wednesday 18 August 2004

Sudanese security recover priceless artifacts stolen last year from museum

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KHARTOUM, Aug 17, 2004 (AP) — Sudanese security officials have recovered 54 historical artifacts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and detained four people in an elaborate investigation following the theft of the pieces last year from the National Museum, Sudanese media reported Tuesday.

The stolen artifacts included 19 small statues from the ancient Nubian kingdoms, which ruled Sudan from 300 to 1600 A.D.; a funerary statue from the Meroe dynasty (second and third centuries B.C.); an ossified skull of a prehistoric human; plus many necklaces, small sculptures and razors, according to the official Sudan Media Center.

Many of the pieces, which were recovered last week, were insured at over US$10,000, museum director Hassan Hussein told the SMC.

"This is a victory for the Sudanese people, not only for the economic security organ that captured them," Hussein said.

Haydar Hamid Muhtar, the director of the museum’s restoration department, told Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper that the pieces were almost all intact.

SMC said the items were stolen from the museum last November but the theft was kept silent to allow for stealth investigations, including quickly contacting airports, ports and neighboring countries to prevent the artifacts being smuggled out of Sudan.

"After giving up hope of sneaking them outside Sudan, the thieves tried to sell them inside the country," a security official at the Economic Security Branch told Akhbar Al-Youm. "And through the collaboration of some citizens who posed as buyers, we were able to locate the whereabouts of the stolen pieces. A huge security operation was involved to lay our hand on the stolen pieces."

Four people were detained pending the completion of the investigation.

"These are priceless archaeological pieces and their restoration is a victory and their recapture is a real victory and a boost to our national security’s economic branch, " the daily quoted the minister for tourism and archaeology, Abdel Galeel Al-Basha, as saying.

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