CAIRO, June 4 (UPI) -- Two curators at a new museum in Cairo were arrested for allegedly stealing antiquities from the facility and replacing them with fakes, officials said.
The two workers, whose names weren't reported, were arrested at the United Nations-backed National Museum for Egyptian Civilization. The museum is scheduled to open later this year.
"The tourist police came at 11 am [Tuesday] and entered the storerooms and arrested two curators accused of making replicas of antiquities," Khaled El Anani, general supervisor of the museum, told NBC News. "I closed the storerooms and am establishing a committee to make an inventory of the antiquities."
He said the two workers were accused of taking a statue of Mycerinus, the architect of Egypt's second-largest pyramid, and had planned to remove an Islamic vase dating from the Mamluk period.
El Anani told Ahram Online the two curators were being investigated by officials with the Tourism and Antiquities Police Headquarters.
The massive new National Museum for Egyptian Civilization was built to include extensive and sophisticated storerooms to keep antiquities safe from looters. Many of Egypt's ancient artifacts were plundered in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring revolution.
In recent months, artifacts and ancient architectural sites have come under threat of destruction by Islamic State militants in nearby Iraq and Syria. Experts are concerned about ancient Roman ruins in Palmyra, Syria, which the group overtook last month. In March, the terror group bulldozed the ancient city of Nimrud and in February destroyed artifacts at Iraq's Mosul Museum.
IS did not loot these sites for monetary gain -- though there is some evidence they have done this as well -- they did so for ideological and religious reasons. The group said the artifacts were symbols of idol worship and inconsistent with Islam.
"When we open it, it will be safe," El Anani said of the museum in Cairo. "There will be tourists, and security."