Middle East

Looted Iraqi Museum in Baghdad reopens 12 years on

Media captionIraqis are shocked and outraged at the damage inflicted on "a piece of shared history", as Ahmed Maher reports

Iraq's national museum has officially reopened in Baghdad, 12 years after it was closed in the aftermath of the US-led invasion.

Many of the antiquities looted during the war have now been recovered and restored.

The museum's opening was brought forward in response to an Islamic State (IS) video showing statues being destroyed in Mosul.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed to punish those responsible.

"Those barbaric, criminal terrorists are trying to destroy the heritage of mankind and Iraq's civilization," Mr Abadi said while attending the museum's opening.

"We will chase them in order to make them pay for every drop of blood shed in Iraq and for the destruction of Iraq's civilization.''

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some of the museum's items were impossible to loot during the Iraq war
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi officially opened the museum
Image copyright AFP
Image caption This piece dates to the 8th Century BC - others in the museum are far older
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Mesopotamians developed writing long before other civilizations
Image copyright AFP
Image caption About 15,000 pieces were looted during the Iraq war, with one-third recovered

The world heritage body Unesco has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss how to protect Iraq's cultural heritage.

The Iraqi Deputy Tourism and Antiquities Minister, Qais Hussein Rashid, told AFP the actions of IS had spurred them into opening.

"The events in Mosul led us to speed up our work and we wanted to open it today as a response to what the gangs of Daesh did," he said, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

The Iraq Museum estimates that some 15,000 items were taken in the chaos that followed the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Almost one-third have been recovered.

The collection covers 7,000 years of history, with Mesopotamia - as Iraq was called for much of human history - considered the cradle of civilization.

Modern reality in Iraq is more violent. The areas in and around Baghdad continue to see daily violence, with at least 25 people killed in two separate attacks north of the capital on Saturday.

Related Topics

More on this story