‘Screaming city’ to boost Afghan tourism

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Owen Faulkner

2008-10-28

BAMIYAN PROVINCE, Oct. 24 — The mine-filled ancient city of Gholghola in Bamiyan province will be cleared so that it can be turned into a tourist site.

The Afghan Information and Culture Ministry deployed a mine-clearance team to locate and remove mines from the historic site, which was used by leaders and tribes to defend the province through the centuries.

A mine clearer tasked with cleaning up the site said, "At the moment, only one pathway here is clear of mines. It may take a whole year to clear the rest of the area."

Gholghola, known as the “City of Screams,” is one of a number of historical sites in Bamiyan and dates back to the arrival of Buddhism in the area about 1,800 years ago.

Head of Bamiyan’s information and culture department, Najeeb Ullah Ahrar, said, "We are making efforts to clear the area of mines, and to make it ready for sightseers, just like other ancient places in Bamiyan, in order to boost tourism in an area rich with archaeological and cultural wonders.”

It is believed that one of the sons of the infamous Mongol warrior Genghis Khan was killed in the city. After his death, Genghis Khan ordered his army to destroy every living creature in the city and his men quickly razed the entire area. The resident’s screams during that mass slaughter earned the city its moniker.

Bamiyan made headlines internationally in 2001 when the hard-line Taliban regime blew up what was once the largest Buddha statue in the world because it said the image was un-Islamic.

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