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5 June 2014
Vandals destroy prehistoric rock art in Libya

Vandals have destroyed prehistoric rock art in southern Libya, endangering a sprawling tableau of paintings and carvings classified by UNESCO as of 'outstanding universal value'.
     Located along Libya's southwestern tip bordering Algeria, the Tadrart Acacus mountain massif is famous for thousands of cave paintings and carvings going back up to 14,000 years. The art, painted or carved on rocks sandwiched by spectacular sand dunes, showcase the changing flora and fauna of the Sahara stretching over thousands of years. Highlights include a huge elephant carved on a rock face as well as giraffes, cows and ostriches rendered in caves dating back to an era when the region was not inhospitable desert.
     Now, several of those paintings have been destroyed or damaged by graffiti sprayers or people carving in their initials. Tourist officials in Ghat, the nearest large town, said the vandalism started around 2009 when a former Libyan employee of a foreign tour company sprayed over several paintings in anger after he had been fired. But the destruction has accelerated since the 2011 civil war .

Edited from Reuters (3 June 2014)

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