This Time… Islamists Succeed in Attack on Ancient Buddha
Earlier in the month, a group of armed men arrived in the village of Jehanabad saying they were mujahedeen, or Islamic fighters, and told residents they wanted to blow up the 7-meter (23-foot) statue.
They were not successful.
But, this did not stop the Islamists.
Swat, the land of romance and beauty, is celebrated throughout the world as the holy land of Buddhist learning and piety. Swat acquired fame as a place of Buddhist pilgrimage. There are now more than 400 Buddhist sites covering and area of 160 Km in Swat valley only. The Swat region is linked by road and by air with Islamabad/Rawalpindi and Peshawar in Pakistan.
PESHAWAR: A seventh-century Buddhist relic in Pakistan was damaged when Islamic militants blasted it with dynamite, police said on Saturday.
They said that the militants used home-made bombs to try to blow up the mountainside engraving, a Buddhist pilgrimage site, and fired at it using automatic weapons.
“Late on Friday, militants attempted to blow up the engraving but they could only damage it partially,” local police official Masood Khan said, adding it was the second attempt to destroy the relic, in Swat in northwest Pakistan.
A local museum official said thousands of Buddhist pilgrims came to the region every year despite security threats to visit the image of Buddha sitting cross-legged, and criticised authorities for failing to protect it.
The incident recalled the internationally condemned destruction of the huge Bamiyan Buddhas in neighbouring Afghanistan by the hardline Taliban regime in 2001.
Swat is known for its Buddhist heritage and archaeological sites and attracts large number of tourists, mainly from Buddhist countries.