London: Historical artefacts dating back to the Bronze Age (3500 to 1200 BC) that were stolen from Afghanistan and smuggled to Britain have been returned by the British armed forces, it was announced Thursday.
Some of the items were looted from Afghanistan`s museums during civil wars in the country over the past two decades while others came from illegal excavations of archaeological sites.
The precious cargo, weighing more than two tonnes and containing 843 individual objects, left Royal Air Force Station Brize Norton in Oxfordshire last week on board a transport plane, and was then transferred from the British military base Camp Bastion in Helmand province to Kabul, a leading daily has reported.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Hamid Karzai confirmed its safe arrival at a press conference in Kabul Thursday.
The consignment included objects found in three separate seizures by customs officials as they were being smuggled into Britain, while other items came to light following investigations by the Art and Antiques Unit of the Metropolitan Police. Additional objects were saved by private individuals.
Experts at the British Museum identified them as originating in Afghanistan and they were stored at the museum in London.