Three Heritage Workers Shot in Ambush by Looters in Iran

The attack took place at a site in the Kurdistan Province.

Kurdish Landscape. Image AFP / SAFIN HAMED/Getty Images

A group of Iranian cultural heritage workers—one worker from the Iranian Heritage Bureau, and two archaeological site experts—were attacked while inspecting a site of suspected looting in the Kurdistan Province of Iran, as reported by Azad News Agency on January 3.

The archaeologists arrived at the site in question in Baneh County on the Western border of Iran, and discovered discarded tools and equipment. They began to examine the site to see what, if anything, had been looted, and what might have been left behind, the ARCA Blog reports.

While inspecting the site, the group was shot at by the looters who were still nearby. Their vehicle was also overturned during the attack, leaving two members of the team with critical injuries. The third underwent surgery at a local hospital.

The Kurdistan Province lies on 230 kilometers of the border between Iran and Iraq. The area searched by the cultural workers is sparsely populated and employment is low. Given its location, economic situation, and lack of border security, the area surrounding the city of Baneh—on the Iranian side—has become a hotspot for drug trafficking as well as the smuggling of both goods and people.

The authorities in Baneh believe that they have identified the attackers and are currently trying to track them down.

Looting in the Arab region, with groups like ISIS looting and selling antiquities and drugs, has become an increased problem following the huge amount of political unrest in the area in recent years.

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