February 01, 2011 07:36
Egypt's top archaeologist says the Egyptian Antiquities Museum is secure after looters began breaking into the Cairo complex last Friday, as mass anti-government protests swirled around it.
Antiquities chief Zawi Hawaas, in a message posted on his website, says that authorities have detained at least 10 people who raided the museum, stole valuables from its gift shop and damaged artifacts including two mummies. He says the looters smashed 13 glass showcases and threw the contents on the floor.
Hawaas says Egyptian troops arrived at the museum late Friday and joined forces with a group of youths to try to stop more looters from entering. He says all damaged antiquities can be restored.
Hawaas says Egyptian authorities are trying to secure other archaeological sites around the country. But, he says they were unable to stop an armed gang from removing ancient artifacts from a warehouse in the Sinai peninsula.
The Cairo museum is home to the world's biggest collection of Pharaonic antiquities, including the gold mask of King Tutankhamun, which draws millions of tourists a year.
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