The Egyptian authorities have arrested three people who tried to steal a 10-ton statue of Pharaoh Ramses II using a crane.
The prosecutor's office said in a statement on Tuesday that it had "ordered the detention of three defendants for four days pending investigation," accusing them of "attempting to steal a pharaonic statue" in the ancient southern city of Aswan, some 675 kilometres south of Cairo on the Nile.
According to the statement, police reported that "three people were arrested in possession of manual digging tools and heavy equipment, a crane," which they had used in an attempt to "lift the statue and excavate the antiquities in the area."
The Aswan Antiquities Authority proved "the antiquity (of the statue) and attributed it to Ramses II, with a weight of about 10 tons," the statement added.
The prosecutor's office ordered police to "promptly investigate others involved with the suspects in the crime."
Ramses II, one of the most famous pharaohs of the 19th Dynasty, ruled for 67 years. He was known as a great warrior and prolific builder who ordered the construction of temples throughout Egypt.
Over the past decade, Egypt has recovered about 29,000 antiquities that had been illegally taken abroad.