Artifact storehouse attacked amid fears of international involvement

The Tal al-Farain antiquities storehouse in Kafr al-Sheikh was attacked by more than 40 armed men on Saturday, said state-run news agency MENA.

Some of the storehouse's guards were seriously injured when the assailants fired at them.

Zahi Hawass, the caretaker government's minister of antiquities, received a report on the incident, which is the second attack on an antiquities storehouse by a large group of robbers since 25 January. The two theft attempts are attributed to the lack of sufficient security for heritage sites.

In statements to MENA, Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud–head of the central administration for the Antiquities of Lower Egypt and the Delta–said the armed men managed to break open the door of the storehouse, rifled through its contents and broke some boxes of artifacts. Guards and archaeologists managed to detain some of the criminals, while the rest fled. A committee was formed to determine what the stolen items are.

Abdel Maqsoud said there is a possibility that international gangs are abusing the current lack of security to steal antiquities in an organized way, as large numbers of armed are attacking heritage sites and museums very frequently.

Meanwhile, residents have built illegally on the Zoleen heritage site in Sharqia.

Abdel Maqsoud said that relevant authorities have been notified of these incidents, adding that the antiquities ministry has made an immediate plan to relocate the artifact storehouses that are being targeted and transfer their contents to more secure locations.

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