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Hundreds of stolen artifacts returned to Afghanistan

Many of the ancient artifacts were stolen during Afghanistan’s civil war in the early 1990s.

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A Buddha statue is displayed the Kabul Museum in Kabul on August 5, 2012. Hundreds of archaeological treasures looted from Afghanistan were returned to the war-torn country's National Museum August 5 after being recovered with the help of the British Museum. Many of the 843 artefacts were seized as they were being smuggled into Britain after some 70 percent of the museum's contents were stolen during Afghanistan's civil war in the early 1990s. (Shah Marai /AFP/Getty Images)

Hundreds of Afghan artifacts that were stolen during the country's civil war were returned to The National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul in a ceremony on Sunday. 

The British Museum in London helped facilitate the repatriation of 843 cultural treasures which date back centuries, BBC News reported

Some of the most notable returns include a second century Buddha statue, a series of first century carved Bagram ivories, a 3,000-year-old ax, and a rare first-century ivory elephant, the Telegraph reported.

Around 70 percent of the National Museum’s artifacts were stolen during Afghanistan’s civil war in the early 1990s, according to Al-Arabiya.

Over two-thirds of the National Museum's exhibits were stolen or destroyed by Taliban forces, the Telegraph reported. 

Several of the pieces were recovered as they were being smuggled into Britain; others were found on the black market or returned by generous donors who had them in private collections.

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"They show Afghanistan's other face," Colin Crorkin, the British Consul General in Kabul, said of the artifacts. "They remind us that the troubles of the Taliban age and the battles against the insurgency are relatively small events in the bigger picture."  

Omara Khan Massoudi, the director of Afghanistan's National Museum, told the Associated Press that they plan to put some of the antiques on display to the public. 

 "I'm very happy to have these artifacts at the museum," Massoudi told the Telegraph. "It's very important to us."

This is not the first time Britain has returned antiques to Afghanistan: In 2009, about 1,500 historical pieces were returned to the country by the British Museum, the AP reported. 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/120805/stolen-artifacts-returned-afghanistan-britain