A mysterious granite monument in rural Georgia has been destroyed after an explosive device reduced it to rubble in the early hours of the morning.
The popular yet peculiar attraction is often called America's Stonehenge by locals, but has become the target of far-right conspiracy theorists in recent years, including a candidate who was in the race to become Georgia's governor.
Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating the explosion, which was captured on nearby CCTV cameras.
The Georgia Guidestones are grey stone slabs that have stood in a field in Elberton in eastern Georgia since 1980.
The unusual structure is made of four large granite tablets arranged around an upright column, complete with a large rectangular capstone on the top, and would illuminate a date engraved on granite at noon each day.
The slabs were engraved with a 10-part message in a dozen different languages, including Sanskrit, English, Russian, Hebrew and Spanish.
According to the Elbert County Chamber of Commerce, the message roughly translates to
A sharp explosion occurred at the Guidestones shortly after 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 6, according to surveillance footage.
The footage shows the bottom half of one of the granite panels shattering, sending debris flying across the field for several metres.
A silver sedan was seen leaving the remote location a short time later, leaving a cloud of dust in its wake.
The officers from the Elbert County Sheriff's Office arrived at the site to find a large portion of the structure had been destroyed.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigations GIB said that no-one was at the site at the time of the explosion, and initial investigations indicate that the explosive device was detonated by unknown individuals.
Why was the site targeted?
The Georgia Guidestones have often been the subject of conspiracy theories because of the mystery of how the structure came to be, and how some of the messages have been interpreted.
In the past, the site has been vandalised, including with the phrase New World Order - a longstanding, baseless conspiracy that a totalitarian world government is emerging, which caused local authorities to install video cameras at the site.
The structure had attracted more attention in recent months after it became the target of Republican candidate for the governor of Georgia, Kandiss Taylor, who had committed to destroying them as part of her conspiracy-laden election campaign.
Ms Taylor, who received just 3.4 per cent of the primary vote in May, said the destruction of the satanic guidestones was proof of God's intervention.
He can do anything he wants to do. She wrote on Twitter that she included striking down Satanic guidestones.
Ms Taylor later released a video saying she would never support vandalism, and that anyone who goes on private or public property to destroy anything illegally should be arrested. The police have not yet identified any suspects, nor have they commented on whether conspiracy theorists played a role in the monument's destruction.
The popular tourist attraction is no longer a concern, despite the fact that most of the pillars were unaffected by the explosion.
The Elberton Granite Association, which maintains the stones, estimated that the repair bill would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The site was deemed a safety risk by authorities and knocked down the remaining granite slabs shortly after they completed their investigation at the scene.