The Buddha of Swat statue, which was carved onto a cliff in the Swat valley in northern Pakistan, was attacked by Taliban operatives who drilled holes into its face and shoulders and inserted explosives, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported in 2016.
The resulting explosion destroyed half of the statue’s face.
It felt “like they killed my father,” Parveesh Shaheen, a 79-year-old Buddhist scholar from the region, told AFP. “We don’t hate anybody, any religion — what is this nonsense to hate somebody?”
In 2012, five years after the attack, a restoration process was begun under the supervision of Italian archaeologist Luca Maria Olivieri, and with a $2.9-million grant from the Italian Archaeological Mission, which called it a “professional and moral obligation” to help restore the Buddha, Dawn reported.
The restoration was announced as being completed this week, according to AFP, with authorities hoping that the statue helps attract tourists to the area.
The Buddha of Swat wasn’t the only such statue to be destroyed by the Taliban. In 2001, the Sunni Islamist fundamentalist group destroyed the massive Buddhas of Bamiyan statues in central Afghanistan.