Egypt recovers ancient stolen statue of Tutankhamun's sister

Smashed cases in the Mallawi museum, Egypt (15 Aug 2013) Hundreds of ancient artefacts were stolen in the August raid

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Egyptian police say they have recovered an ancient statue of Tutankhamun's sister, stolen during unrest in August.

The limestone figurine believed to be of Ankhesamon was among hundreds of artefacts taken from the museum in Mallawi, amid the unrest following the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi.

It was traced by police to a coffee shop owner in the Khan el-Khalili bazaar district of the capital, Cairo.

A senior official told the BBC the statue was largely in a good condition.

It needed some restoration work, but would go on display in a new museum devoted to the family of Tutankhamun's father, the Pharaoh Akhenaten, said Ahmed Sharaf, head of Egypt's museum department.

The family of Akhenaten, who ruled ancient Egypt around 1,500 BC, would now be reunited, said Mr Sharaf.

Tukankhamun's death mask - now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo

The Mallawi museum was one of several ransacked across the country during the riots which broke out as the security forces cracked down on Islamist supporters of Mr Morsi who were staging a sit-in in the capital, Cairo.

Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said the 32cm (13 inch) statue of the girl was "one of the most important in the museum".

Mr Ibrahim told the AFP news agency that about 1,050 artefacts had been stolen at that time, of which about 800 had been recovered.

Egypt's ancient sites have been targeted by treasure-seekers for centuries, with the tomb of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamen famously surviving almost intact.

But the BBC's Arab Affairs editor Sebastian Usher says the upheavals in Egypt since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 have helped looters target museums and archaeological sites for ancient treasures to sell on the black market.

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