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Iraq urges Germany to stop auction of stolen antiques


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Baghdad urged German authorities Tuesday to halt the auction in Munich of two stolen Iraqi artefacts dating back to the early years of civilisation.

The ministry of tourism and antiquities said one of the items is a headless 22 centimetre (nine inch) Sumerian statue of a man wearing a woolen shirt, which dates back to 2500 BC.

The other was an engraved 12 centimetre (five inch) cylinder with Sumerian inscriptions from 2095 BC, belonging to the Ur dynasty of King Sholaji.

"We demand all those concerned to take quick measures to stop this auction," said Baha al-Mayah, advisor to the ministry.

Abbas Ali al-Husseini, of the state committee for antiquities and heritage, said the Iraqi envoy to UNESCO has also asked the international body to stop the auction.

With the fall of the former regime in March 2003 there was a massive looting not only of the Baghdad antiquities museum but of the countless historical sites around the country.

Iraq is described as the cradle of civilization with some of the first evidence of complex urban life appearing around 3000 BC within its borders.

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AFP 121837 GMT 12 06

COPYRIGHT 2006 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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