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Tigrinya Army Dominates Ethiopia’s Lalibela, UN World Heritage Site – Witnesses

File Photo: Bet Medhane Alem Rock Church can be seen in Lalibela on April 23, 2011.Reuters / Flora Bagenal / File Photo

August 5, 2021

Addis Ababa (Reuters)-Army from the Tigray region of Ethiopia ruled the town of Lalibela. Lalibela’s famous Rock-Hewn Church is a UN World Heritage Site and residents have fled, two witnesses told Reuters Thursday.

Lalibela, the sanctuary of millions of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, is located in the North Wolo Zone of the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia. Over the last few weeks, fighting has spread from Tigray to two neighboring areas, Amharic and Afar, forcing about 250,000 people to flee.

Lalibela resident Safe, who spoke to Reuters on the phone, said he saw hundreds of armed men speaking the Tigrinya language, Tigrinya, on Thursday. He said they did not speak Amharic, the language of the Lalibela people, and wore “different uniforms” than those of the Federal Army.

The second man, Dawitt, called Reuters and said he had left Lalibela on Thursday morning when the Tigrinya army arrived. “We had to walk and about 200 people left.”

Reuters was unable to independently verify witness information. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister, the Ethiopian army, and the Government Task Force on Tigray could not be contacted immediately for comment.

Lalibela is a major tourist destination in Africa’s second most populous country. Visitors plummeted after a war broke out in November between the Federal Army and the Tigray People’s Liberation Army (TPLF) troops in Tigre.

The government declared victory at the end of the month after occupying the local capital, Mek’ele. However, the TPLF continued to fight and regained most of Mek’ele and Tigray after the withdrawal of government soldiers at the end of June.

(Report by Addis Ababa Newsroom and Julia Paravicini in Olbia, Italy, additional report and writing by Maggie Fick, edited by Mark Heinrich and John Boyle)



Tigrinya Army Dominates Ethiopia’s Lalibela, UN World Heritage Site – Witnesses

Source link Tigrinya Army Dominates Ethiopia’s Lalibela, UN World Heritage Site – Witnesses

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