Mr Hussain recalls how additional bombs were brought in along with explosive material that he says looked like soap and felt like dough. "From then on, they carried out two to three explosions every day to destroy the Buddha completely," he says. "We drilled holes into the statue to plant the dynamite. We didn't have proper tools. The whole process took 25 days."

Mirza Hussain now works as a bicycle repair man
Mirza Hussain now works as a bicycle repair man

Mirza Hussain was 26 when Taliban commanders ordered him to plant explosives on the famous Buddha statues in his home province, Bamiyan.

The ancient sandstone carvings, once the world's tallest Buddhas, were annihilated in an act of destruction that shocked the world, and helped set a precedent for the recent vandalism of Iraqi heritage sites by Islamic State fighters.

A lot has happened in Afghanistan in the 14 years since the Buddhas were destroyed, but for Mirza Hussain the memory is still vivid.

"First they fired at the Buddhas with tanks and artillery shells," he says. "But when that was ineffective, they planted explosives to try to destroy them."

At this point, he says, he was drafted in along with other local men being held by the Taliban.

Mr Hussain, like most people in Bamiyan city, is a Shia Muslim and therefore was regarded as an enemy - or even an infidel - by the Sunni Taliban.