July 12, 2018 10:25 pm
Updated: July 12, 2018 11:55 pm

7th-century Buddha statue restored after being dynamited by Pakistani Taliban in 2007

Italian archaeologist Luca Maria Olivieri speaks with Pakistani historian Parvesh Shaheen next to the seventh-century rock sculpture of a seated Buddha carved into a mountain in Jahanabad town in the northwestern Swat Valley of Pakistan, April 26, 2018.

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A seventh-century Buddha statue that was severely damaged by Taliban insurgents in 2007 has been restored to near-original condition.

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?”

An ancient Buddha carved into into a mountainside sits defaced Oct. 10, 2007 after Islamic extremists attacked the historic relic at Jehanabad in the Swat Valley of Pakistan.

John Moore/Getty Images

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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.

READ MORE: ISIS financing operations through sale of ancient artifacts

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.

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