Criminal charges are being pursued after a 1,700-year-old statue of Buddha was deliberately destroyed by construction workers in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
Video of workers smashing the life-sized statue with a sledgehammer in the town of Takhbhai went viral on July 17.
The destruction of the statue, which had been discovered on the grounds of a home construction site, led to widespread condemnation and prompted the regional archeology department to file a criminal report against the perpetrators.
Abdul Samad, general director of the archeology department, told RFE/RL on July 18 that the statue was destroyed by a local contractor and that five people had been arrested for breaking antiquity laws.
Samad added that the statue was completely destroyed.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province was the the site of the ancient kingdom of Gandhara, and Takhbhai, located in the Pashtun tribal region's Mardan district, is considered a major regional site of Buddhist civilization.
Afrasiab Khattak, a former parliamentarian, wrote on Twitter on July 18 that the incident was part of a "systematic effort to separate Pashtun identity from Buddha."
Charges Sought After Rare Buddha Statue Destroyed In Pakistan