We all remember the Bamiyan statues, those giant stone Buddhas the Taliban blew up in 2001. One of the 1,500 year-old statues is pictured here. Pictures are all we have left of them.
Now another Buddhist site in Afghanistan is under threat of destruction. This time the danger isn’t the Taliban, but a Chinese mining company. The site of Mes Aynak in eastern Afghanistan was home to a thriving Buddhist monastery in the seventh century. It’s also right next to an abandoned Soviet mine that may have the world’s second-largest reserve of copper. A Chinese mining company has invested $3.5 billion to exploit the mine and Afghan officials are eager for work to get underway.
A team of Afghani archaeologists is busy excavating the site and has found an entire monastery complex with more than 150 statues. They were originally given three years, a woefully inadequate length of time for a team of barely forty people, and now they’re being pressured to finish by the end of this year. The archaeologists fear that once the miners move in, the monastery will get wrecked.
The mine will bring much-needed jobs and wealth to Afghanistan, which is also courting adventure tours, so the in the rush to yank copper out of their land they might want to think about preserving some of their past.
[Photo courtesy Marco Bonavoglia via Wikimedia Commons]
The U.S. government will issue a travel warning today for its citizens going to Europe. The warning is in response to intelligence regarding plans by terrorists to launch Mumbai-style commando attacks in European cities.
The attacks in Mumbai in 2008 were carried out by small groups of heavily armed terrorists who attacked several spots in the city simultaneously. They killed at least 173 people and injured hundreds more. US and foreign intelligence officials say that Al-Qaeda is planning similar attacks in the UK, France, and Germany. Details of the plans were leaked to the press last week. Nobody has been arrested but officials say several European citizens of Asian origin are under surveillance.
The travel warning, which is not as serious as a travel advisory, will tell U.S. citizens of the heightened threat level and request them to be extra vigilant when visiting Europe. No specific countries will be named in the advisory.
So how best to deal with warning? It’s impossible to know where terrorism will strike next, and these vague reports from anonymous officials don’t really clear things up. For some good safety advice check out this post by former Gadling blogger Abha Malpani, who was in Mumbai at the time of the attacks.
[Image courtesy U.S. Navy]
The Spanish government fears that three Spanish aid workers kidnapped this week in Mauritania were taken by Al-Qaeda’s North African group.
The three were taken by masked gunmen from their vehicle as it was driving in a caravan to deliver aid for the group Barcelona-Acciò Solidaria en Mauritania. They were riding in the last vehicle and were apparently stopped when the gunmen fired some shots. There is no information about whether anyone was injured. The caravan was driving on a road between the capital Nouakchott to the city of Nouadhibou, shown here.
While no group has claimed responsibility, the Spanish government suspects Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb, which recently kidnapped a French aid worker in Mali. In Mauritania they claimed responsibility for killing an American teacher in June. The spate of attacks and kidnappings are making travel in several Saharan nations increasingly dangerous.