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Major Iraq museum still closed

October 21, 2008|From the Associated Press

Iraq's National Museum, which was looted after the U.S. captured Baghdad in 2003, will remain closed to the public for up to two more years until security in the capital is better, the director said Monday.

Director Amira Eidan said that reopening the museum to the public must be the "very last step in Baghdad's journey to absolute normalcy."

"If everything goes well and there are no unexpected developments, then it can reopen after between one and two years from now," Eidan said.

The museum, a treasure trove of artifacts from the Stone Age through the Babylonian, Assyrian and Islamic periods, fell victim to bands of armed thieves who stole or destroyed its contents.

U.S. troops were intensely criticized for not protecting the museum's priceless collection at the time. Since then, Iraqi and world culture officials have struggled with limited success to retrieve the treasures looted from the museum in central Baghdad.

Up to 7,000 pieces still are missing, including 40 to 50 considered to be of great historic importance, officials said.

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