The stolen gold urn. Photo: AP

Stolen golden urn said to contain Buddha relics recovered in Cambodia


Cambodian police said yesterday they had recovered a golden urn said to contain relics of Buddha after it was snatched from a mountain shrine, sparking a nationwide manhunt.

The disappearance of the urn - believed to contain hair, teeth and bones of Buddha - and several small statues came to light in December and prompted an outcry in the Buddhist country.

Authorities said they found the relics during a raid on Thursday at a house in the southern province of Takeo, about 130 kilometres from the shrine in the former royal city of Udong.

"Everything is still in the urn," national police spokesman Kirt Chantharith said.

A suspect was arrested following the raid, according to the website of the Cambodian National Police. The statement said authorities were still hunting for the "mastermind" of the theft.

Five guards at the shrine were also arrested in December.

The relics are believed to have been brought from Sri Lanka to Cambodia in the 1950s to celebrate 2,500 years since Buddha's birth.

In 2002, then-king Norodom Sihanouk moved the relics from the capital, Phnom Penh, to Udong, some 45 kilometres away, in a ceremony that was attended by tens of thousands of people.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Stolen Buddha relic found, two months on