CAIRO, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian security forces on Saturday arrested members of a gang working in illegal archaeological excavation and found 193 Pharaonic statues in their possession, Egypt's interior ministry said.
In a statement, the ministry said that the National Security Department obtained information that a 22-member criminal mob possessed ancient relics and was trying to sell them to illegal antiquities traders.
The security forces arrested four members of the gang for possessing the artifacts and illegally excavating near the archaeological sites in Giza province.
The ministry said that a large stone sarcophagus was also found with the arrested criminals, adding that the findings date back to the Fourth Dynasty of ancient Egypt.
"After carrying out the excavations in archaeological areas in Giza, the gang discovered an ancient cemetery containing the 193 statues and the sarcophagus," the ministry revealed, adding that the police also located the cemetery.
Egypt, one of the most ancient civilizations, has been working hard to preserve its archaeological heritage and discover the secrets of its ancient antiquities in a bid to revive the country's ailing tourism sector, which has been suffering an acute recession over the past few years due to political turmoil and relevant security issues.