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The Egyptian Museum overlooking Tahrir Square in Cairo’s city center was vandalized Friday night by nine convicts, who broke artifacts and attempted to steal two mummies.
Convicts were forced to leave the mummies behind when they broke into pieces as they carried the ancient artifacts towards the museum doors. A reporter from Al-Masry Al-Youm’s Arabic edition saw the damage this morning and Al-Arabeya news channel has been showing the first footage shot within the museum Saturday afternoon.
Glass display cases were broken, although the ancient Egyptian jewels inside were not taken. Statues were broken into pieces and sarcophagi were displaced.
Zahi Hawass, the Head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, made a statement this morning that all the artifacts were still in the museum, although many had been broken.
According to Hawass, about 1,000 people looted the museum's gift shop and grounds. Later nine people carrying mummy skulls were arrested as they tried to leave through emergency exits.
Hawass said he believes the artifacts can be reconstructed as nothing was removed from museum grounds, but he is worried about museums throughout Egypt in areas where people have evacuated. The army has not yet answered his calls to protect the nation's artifacts, he said.
According to Gihane Zaki, professor of Egyptology at the Faculty of Tourism and director of international cooperation at the Supreme Council of Antiquities said, “They broke everything even the Tutankhamen treasures and all the gold artifacts. I am extremely worried for the two museums that I am in charge of: The Nubian Museum and the one in Fustat.”