Police in Kampong Thom reported yesterday that 13 broken Buddhist statues, thought to have been hidden in a forest for smuggling purposes, were discovered by local villagers.
Prasat Balaing police chief Chhin Chhum said he received a tip-off from local villagers in Sa Kream commune’s Sa Kream Khang Cheung village about the statues, adding that he has requested permission from the provincial prosecutor to inspect the situation.
“I think these statues were probably taken by the perpetrators from an ancient temple in order to sell them,” he said. “Now we must investigate to find the perpetrators and punish them.”
He added that provincial prosecutor Ith Sothea went to the village with a group of authorities to collect the artefacts and further the investigation into who was keeping them. It is not known yet what temple the objects may have come from.
Khim Sarith, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said he had received information about the discovery and will send officials to the site today.
“We will examine where the statues came from, and [determine] whether they are from a temple or crafted by artists,” he said, adding that if they are found out to be ancient artefacts, they will be brought to the National Museum.
Last week, a 10th-century statue of the Hindu god Hanuman was returned to the Kingdom following evidence that it was likely stolen from the Prasat Chen temple.