Mining threat to ancient Afghan monastery at Mes Aynak

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Ten years ago, the Taliban blew up Afghanistan's ancient Buddhas of Bamiyan, provoking international outrage. Now, the country's rich heritage is facing a new threat. A Chinese mining venture has set its sights on another ancient Buddhist site, reports the BBC's Quentin Sommerville.

Mes Aynak lies in Logar province, a short helicopter ride from Kabul.

The site was was once an al-Qaeda training camp, but is also home to an astonishing discovery - a Buddhist monastery more than 1,400 years old.

Unlike many archaeological sites, this is more than a few stones on the ground.

There are walls and corridors. Walking past the stupas, or shrines, and the still brightly painted red Buddhas, you get a real sense of a living monastery and the grandeur of the place.

The monks settled here because there was copper in the ground; it was part of a Buddhist kingdom. This was a way-station on the Silk Road, the route that would take Buddhism from India to Tibet, and beyond into China....  

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