Plot to smuggle mummies foiled by tourist police

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CAIRO: Police have arrested three would-be smugglers trying to sell intricately painted Pharaonic-era mummies for more than $5 million, a security source said on Wednesday.

Tourist police in Fayoum arrested the men on Tuesday as they sought to sell the four mummies and other looted artifacts on the international antiquities black market.

The source said the mummies appeared to have been stolen from an illegal dig carried out by the men near Minya, 120 km south of Fayoum, and are likely previously unknown to antiquities authorities.

One of the mummies is of a child, the other three are of men, all covered with linen and plaster, the source said, adding that another 10 small statues and a Pharaonic sarcophagus decorated with hieroglyphs were also seized.

These smugglers were arrested before they could sell the mummies to antiquities traders for LE 20 million ($5.3 million), the source said.

The tourist police in Fayoum are now trying to work out exactly how old the artifacts are and who the mummies are. The smugglers face a minimum of three years in jail. -AFP

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