Mining threat to ancient Afghan monastery at Mes Aynak





Ten years ago, the Taliban blew up Afghanistan's ancient Buddhas of Bamiyan, provoking international outrage. Now, the country's rich heritage is facing a new threat. A Chinese mining venture has set its sights on another ancient Buddhist site, reports the BBC's Quentin Sommerville.

Mes Aynak lies in Logar province, a short helicopter ride from Kabul.

The site was was once an al-Qaeda training camp, but is also home to an astonishing discovery - a Buddhist monastery more than 1,400 years old.

Unlike many archaeological sites, this is more than a few stones on the ground.

There are walls and corridors. Walking past the stupas, or shrines, and the still brightly painted red Buddhas, you get a real sense of a living monastery and the grandeur of the place.

The monks settled here because there was copper in the ground; it was part of a Buddhist kingdom. This was a way-station on the Silk Road, the route that would take Buddhism from India to Tibet, and beyond into China....  



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