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Iraq: Looters Steal Ancient Treasures From National Museum In Baghdad

Baghdad, 12 April 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Looters have ransacked the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad, taking art and artifacts dating back thousands of years. Deputy Director Nabhal Amin told the Reuters news agency that some 170,000 items have disappeared or been destroyed. She said the collection was worth billions of dollars.

Amin said she holds U.S. troops responsible for failing to protect the museum's contents from thieves and vandals.

The museum housed Sumerian and Assyrian art, treasures from ancient Mesopotamia, and tablets bearing some of the earliest known writing. It reopened in 2000 after being closed for nearly 10 years after the first Gulf War.

The United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, today called on coalition forces to take "immediate steps" to protect Iraq's cultural assets.