Islamic extremists tried to blow up an ancient statue of Buddha carved into a mountainside in northwestern Pakistan, but did not damage the structure, officials and witnesses said Wednesday.
The attack echoes the Taliban's destruction of the famous Bamiyan statues in neighboring Afghanistan in 2001 and comes as that country and Pakistan battle a surge in violence by extremists wanting to impose a harsh version of Islamic law.
The attempt to destroy the monument occurred in the small village of Jehanabad in North West Frontier Province, a stronghold of pro-Taliban militants that lies on the border with Afghanistan, officials said.
"Luckily, the actual statue of the Buddha is safe," said Abdul Nasir, assistant curator of the museum in the nearby town of Swat. "Islam teaches us to respect other religions and faiths, but unfortunately some elements are disturbing the peace in the Swat valley."