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Egypt: Hundreds of priceless artefacts destroyed in museum looting

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Egypt: Hundreds of priceless artefacts destroyed in museum looting
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Hundreds of ancient Egyptian artefacts have been vandalised and looted from a museum outside Cairo.

A ticket agent was also killed when the Malawi Museum, close to the River Nile, was stormed by looters.

The raiders stole artefacts including jewellery, pottery, coins and sculptures to sell on the black market as well as setting fire to two mummies and smashing up anything that was too big to carry away.

Archaeologist, Monica Hanna, gave a sense of the scale of the loss: “I think we are missing around 500 objects. When the break in happened here at the Egyptian Museum the loss was around 50 objects, so imagine this loss is ten times bigger”.

Museum curators say there is also a problem with Egyptians digging up archaeological sites.

“A lot of the Egyptian population are mad about going out and digging for antiquities. People dig under their houses, people dig on archaeological sites. It’s really out of control,” Hanna said.

The scale of the looting demonstrates the security vacuum that has taken hold in cities outside Cairo, where most police have disappeared from the streets.

When Hanna asked a group of teenagers wielding guns to stop destroying the artefacts, she says they told her they were getting back at the government for killing people in Cairo.