Afghanistan Destroying All Statues, Including Old Buddhas

KABUL, Afghanistan, MAR. 1, 2001 ( Using everything from tanks to rocket launchers, Taliban troops fanned out across the country today to destroy all statues, including two fifth-century statues of Buddha carved into a mountainside, the Associated Press reported.

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Despite international outrage, troops and other officials began demolishing images, which they say are contrary to Islam, said Qadradullah Jamal, the Taliban´s information minister.

Afghanistan´s ancient Buddhas — 175 feet and 120 feet tall — are located in Bamiyan, about 90 miles west of Kabul. The larger Buddha is said to be the world´s tallest statue in which Buddha is standing up rather than sitting.

In ordering the statutes destroyed, the Taliban´s supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, said Monday that they were contrary to the tenets of Islam, which the Taliban say forbids images, such as paintings and pictures. The Taliban, who rule about 95% of Afghanistan, espouse a strict brand of Islamic law.

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