KABUL, APR 8 : A rescue operation is underway to excavate Buddhist relics from Mes Aynak, a former training camp of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, before being taken over by a Chinese mining company for copper production.
Around 1,000 workers are trying to excavate artefacts from the country’s second most important Buddhist site, The Art Newspaper reports. The site has reportedly been leased to the Chinese mining company.
Afghanistan has suffered severe losses in recent years from civil war, looting and the vandalism of the Taliban, and in such situations, Mes Aynak has received much attention internationally.
Mes Aynak (Little Copper Well) lies 25 miles south-east of Kabul, in a barren region. The Buddhist monasteries date from the third to the seventh centuries, and are located near the remains of ancient copper mines.
Bin Laden had reportedly set up a training camp there in 1999 to prepare terrorists for the 11 September attack. All traces of the camp have gone, but the region still remains a Taliban stronghold.
Although comparatively little has been excavated, the archaeologists are supposed to complete their work within 14 months before the mining begins in 2014.