Islamists Bomb-Blast Ancient Swat Valley Buddha in Pakistan
A group of masked men had planted explosives in the rock, where the statue of the sitting Buddha is carved.
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.
The Khaleej Times reported that a group of armed men arrived in the village late Monday saying they were mujahedeen, or Islamic fighters, and told residents they wanted to blow up the 7-meter (23-foot) statue, said villager Amir Khan.
ADN Kronos reported:
Mingora, 12 Sept. (AKI/DAWN) – In a grim reminder of the destruction of world famous Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan by the Taliban (Video HERE) six years ago, militants tried on Tuesday to blow up a seventh-century Buddhist rock carving in Pakistan’s Swat valley, northwest of the capital, Islamabad.
The the image of the sitting Buddha is carved into a 40-metre high rock in the mountains 20 kilometres north of Mingora, a town in the Swat valley.
The Gandhara civilisation site was not damaged by the blasts which were caused by two explosive devices that were detonated in the early hours of Tuesday.
Before the recent deterioration of the law and order situation in the valley, hundreds of tourists, mainly Buddhists, used to visit the site.
Local people said one explosive device had been planted on top and another in the foot of the rocks. The images were not damaged but a portion of the rock was.
They believed that it was the handiwork of local militants.
In 2001, the Taliban blew up the Buddha statues in the central Afghan province of Bamiyan saying they were offensive to Islam, despite appeals from around the world, including from Muslim leaders, that they be saved.
Here’s another photo of the statue in Jehanabad, Pakistan:
A survived statue of Buddha carved into a rock is seen in Jehanabad. (AP Photo/Hameedullah Khan)