Addis Ababa (Ethiopia): Hundreds of worshippers reportedly armed with ‘cobbles and sticks’ rushed to protect the sacred Ark of the Covenant as brutal fighting in Ethiopia neared the church where it is said to be secured. Up to 800 people are believed to have been killed during the massacre, which took place in November.
Christians in the eastern African country claim the sacred Ark is being kept under guard at the Church of St Mary of Zion in Axum – Ethiopia’s holiest city in the Tigray region. The ark is described in the Bible as an ornate wooden casket which houses stone tablets etched with the Ten Commandments. It is said to have been in the Axum church since the 1960s.
The battle between Ethiopian soldiers and rebel fighters happened in the fall, The Sunday Times reported, but it is only being reported now.
Ethnic violence over land and resources has been a persistent problem in Ethiopia under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to office in April 2018.
The atrocities of the Tigray conflict have occurred in the shadows. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for making peace with neighboring Eritrea, announced the fighting as the world focused on the US election. He accused Tigray’s regional forces, whose leaders dominated Ethiopia for nearly three decades before he took office, of attacking the Ethiopian military. Tigray’s leaders called it self-defense after months of tensions.
The internet and mobile phone networks have been shut off in Tigray. Ahmed has deployed his country’s army against the leadership of the region.
In November, Ahmed declared victory over the TPLF after pro-government forces took control of the regional capital, Mekele. His government denied that Eritrea was involved but recently backed down on its claim that no civilians had been killed.