Blast cracks Buddah statues

An explosion has cracked historic remains of one of the famed Bamiyan Buddha statues that were destroyed by the Taliban seven years ago, an Afghan culture official said today.

Nato-led troops destroyed two pieces of unexploded ordnance close to the smaller of the two statues on Thursday, Najibullah Harar, chief of information and culture for Bamiyan, said.

The blast caused cracks in what is left of the 34.5 metre-high statue and its side walls, he said.

UN spokesman Aleem Siddique said there had been a controlled explosion about 100 meters from the statue and the UN was checking into the incident. He said it was unclear if the Buddha remains were damaged.

Controlled explosions are forbidden in the area of the World Heritage Site, Siddique said.

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