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Sudan: Heritage sites destroyed by gold-diggers

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In the Bayouda desert of Sudan, the ancient site of Jabal Maragha has disappeared.

The ruins, that were two thousand years old, have been destroyed by treasure hunters who searched the site for gold.

To save time, they used heavy machinery, digging a vast trench into the historic location. Hardly anything remains.

"We worked on this site for a month," said the archeologist Habab Idriss Ahmed.

"At the time, it was a quiet and beautiful site, never touched by anyone. But today, when I came here, I was shocked by the way it has been destroyed."

Sudan counts around a thousand well-known sites, a hundred of which have been damaged or destroyed by gold diggers.

"There are a lot of attempts to attack archaeological sites," explained Hatem al-Nour, Sudan's director of antiquities and museums.

"This attack is a strong coup because this site is a rare site that contained a lot of useful information for research on the history of Sudan."

The destruction of heritage sites is a serious problem in Sudan, where treasure-hunters can be freed by the police without charge.

Businessmen finance digging expeditions and local authorities have even encouraged people to hunt for treasures.