The latest political unrest in Egypt has resulted in the theft and destruction of more than 1,000 artifacts in a museum south of Cairo, according to multiple published reports. The looting is believed to have taken place over several days starting last week.
The Malawi National Museum, located in the Nile River city of Minya, contained numerous archaeological specimens and antiquities dating back thousands of years. Reports claim that the recent attacks at the museum represent the largest instance of cultural looting in the country's history.
Among the casualties is a missing 3,500-year-old statue of the daughter of Pharaoh Akhenaten, according to the Associated Press. Other missing objects include sculptures, coins and various metal objects.
An official with Egypt's Antiquities Ministry told the AP that authorities will not press charges or arrest anyone who comes forward with looted items, and that a small financial reward is available for returned artifacts.
Other attacks on cultural sites around Egypt have been reported during the unrest. Irinia Bokova, the head of UNESCO, has publicly condemned the attacks, saying that "this constitutes irreversible damage to the history and identity of the Egyptian people."
It remains unclear if the attacks on the museum and other sites were politically motivated or were random attacks by troublemakers taking advantage of the country's instability.