A Belgium-based peacebuilding non-profit is reporting 750 people killed in an attack on Ethiopia church.The attack was detailed in the January 9 ‘Situation Report’ of the Europe External Programme with Africa (EEPA). The attack happened at the Maryam Tsiyon Church in Aksum, also known as the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion. The organisation said the massacre was carried out by Ethiopian federal troops and Amhara militia. Ethiopia is home to 36 million Orthodox Christians, the world’s second-largest Orthodox population after Russia.
Massacre ‘of 750’ reported in Aksum church complex, Tigray, Ethiopia
REPORTS of a massacre of 750 people in the cathedral complex that reputedly houses the Ark of the Covenant have emerged from the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
Accounts have come from those who fled the town of Aksum and walked more than 200km to the regional capital, Mekelle.
The massacre was first reported in dispatches from the Belgium-based NGO European External Programme with Africa (EEPA). The area is sealed off to journalists, but many reports of massacres have nevertheless emerged, some of which have been documented by Amnesty International.
The former BBC World Service Africa editor and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Martin Plaut, said that those who escaped the Aksum massacre had reported that the attack began after Ethiopian federal troops and Amhara militia approached the Church of St Mary of Zion.
Up to 1000 people were believed to be sheltering in the church complex. One of the chapels, the Chapel of the Tablet, is believed by Ethiopian Christians to contain the Ark of the Covenant, which is hidden from the view of everyone, apart from a single priest who never leaves the compound.
EEPA’s latest dispatch on the situation in Tigray, on Tuesday, reports that 750 people were shot in Aksum, although this has not been verified. It says that the massacre was carried out by Ethiopian federal troops and Amhara militia.
The Church is not thought to have been damaged, and Mr Plaut said that the Ark is likely to have been hidden before troops arrived, although it has not been possible to confirm this.
The Ark is believed by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians to have been hidden in Aksum by Menelik I, the son of King Solomon of Israel. The kingdom of Aksum was one of the four great powers of the ancient world, and the town of Aksum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Fighting broke out in Tigray in November, after the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, sent federal troops, supported by militia and troops from Eritrea, to fight the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which he accused of holding illegitimate elections (News, 20 November 2020). The TPLF was part of the governing coalition of Ethiopia until 2019. The government declared that the conflict was over after it captured Mekelle, in late November, but the TPLF continues to fight a guerrilla war.
Source: part of the article published by Church Times, link: https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2021/15-january/news/world/massacre-of-750-reported-in-aksum-church-complex-tigray-ethiopia
Published on January 15, 2021. Please read the complete article on the already indicated link of the Church Times. Republished by Intell News Romania in English on January 25, 2021