PHNOM PENH, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia on Friday celebrated the return of hundreds of looted Khmer antiquities and ancient jewels to the Southeast Asian nation from abroad.
Speaking at the event held at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said the returned artifacts were stolen from various temples and illegally exported to other countries during the 1970s when the country suffered a civil war.
"I'd like to appeal to museums, institutions and antique collectors who have possessed Khmer antiquities to return those ancient objects to Cambodia voluntarily," Hun Sen said. "Your return of Khmer antiquities to Cambodia, the rightful owner, will be highly appreciated, and it also contributes to promoting the culture of a nation."
Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona said recently, 77 pieces of looted Khmer ancient jewelry, handed over by the family of the late antique collector Douglas Latchford, had been returned to Cambodia from Britain.
In addition, many important Khmer cultural treasures in the possession of museums and private collectors had been returned to Cambodia from the United States and Britain, she said.
"Amongst the returned Khmer cultural treasures, there are some important Hindu and Buddhist statues, as well as ancient jewelries from the pre-Angkor and Angkor periods," Sackona said.
According to her, the returned large stone statues included some from Koh Ker, an ancient capital which had been the target of large-scale theft for many years during Cambodia's civil war.