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    Rare stolen artifacts seized in Herat raid

    HERAT CITY (PAN): Twenty-two historical artifacts, destined for smuggling abroad, have been seized from a house in western Herat province, police said on Sunday.

    Herat police chief, Brig. Gen. Rahmatullah Sapi, told Pajhwok Afghan News the masterpieces were recovered during an overnight raid. A man was detained in connection with the smuggling bid.

    Initial investigations revealed the items -- some of them 800 years old -- had been stolen from Afghan museums, he said. The items include stone-carved masterpieces of calligraphy .

    One of them is a rare miniature lion statue, whose value is estimated by experts at $80,000, according to Gen. Sapi. He believed the price would have shot up considerably if it had been smuggled abroad.

    Over the past four decades, different Afghan museums have been robbed of precious works of art. The latest heist of 39 rare objects took place at the Herat Museum in 2009.

    The accused was found dead under mysterious circumstances inside prison 12 hours after he was detained. Sapi did not rule out the possibility that the seized items were those stolen four years ago.

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