Accessibility links

Minister: 18 Artifacts Stolen From Egyptian Museum

Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass stands beside damaged artifacts in the Egyptian Museum, located near the opposition stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo, February 10, 2011.

Egypt's antiquities minister says he has learned that looters stole several artifacts from Cairo's Egyptian Museum during the anti-government protests that erupted in nearby Tahrir Square late last month.

Zahi Hawass said Sunday that an inventory of the world-renowned museum's collection found that 18 objects were missing, including a gilded wooden statue of King Tutankhamun being carried by a goddess. Parts of another gilded wooden statue of Tutankhamun also were missing.

Hawass earlier had said looters who entered the museum on January 28 had damaged about 70 objects, but there had been no word of any pieces being stolen until Sunday. In his latest announcement, he said the Egyptian army and police would question a group of looters already in custody about the missing artifacts.

Hawass also said he no longer considers Egypt's museums and archaeological treasures to be safe, reversing his statement earlier in the month that authorities had secured all historical sites.

The Egyptian Museum contains more than 100,000 artifacts, of which the best known is the gold funerary mask of the teenage pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.