Egypt's Minister of Antiquities has announced that 18 objects were stolen from Cairo's Egyptian Museum during recent pro-democracy protests in the African country.
“An investigation has begun to search for the people who have taken these objects, and the police and army plan to follow up with the criminals already in custody,” Zahi Hawass wrote on his website.
Looters attacked some ancient sites and museums while Egypt was rocked by unprecedented demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year-rule.
Inspired by the recent popular revolution in Tunisia, which resulted in the historic overthrow of ousted president Zine El Abidin Ben Ali, Egyptians staged similar pro-democracy protests starting on January 24, 2011, calling on Mubarak to step down from power after three decades in office.
Some 70 objects including two mummified skulls from the Late Period were destroyed when protesters set the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), near Cairo's Egyptian Museum, on fire.
Hawass said the stolen items include 11 wooden Shabti statuettes from Yuya and “a magazine [storage structure] in Dahshur was broken into” last night. “This magazine contains large blocks and small artifacts.”
Hawass also revealed on February 11, 2011, that he had obtained a report about the possible disappearance of two Roman Period mummies from the storage magazine in Tuna el-Gebel.
This is while he had previously announced that all sites in Middle Egypt, such as Tuna el-Gebel, Amarna, and Beni Hasan, were safe.
He had also stated that "nothing was stolen from the [Egyptian] museum" during the break-in, Huffington Post reported.
The most important missing piece from the Egyptian Museum might be a limestone statue of Akhenaton holding an offering table.
“It's the most important one [of the missing objects] from an artistic point of view,” explained museum director, Tarek el-Awady. “The position of the king is unique and it's a beautiful piece.”