News agencies reported that the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebels have captured the city of Lalibela in northern Ethiopia. According to local residents, the fighters managed to manage it without a fight. The city is famous for its historic churches carved into the rocks, which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
According to Lalibela residents who spoke to AFP and Reuters, the Tigers reoccupied the city on Sunday, just two weeks after it was retaken by government forces. Tigers are stationed in the city center. There are no fights – said one of the residents. – People are afraid. Some run away. Most of them left, because they were afraid of revenge, the others admitted.
A witness who spoke to Reuters reported that Amharic forces allied with the Ethiopian government (Lalibela in the Amharic region) and their allies began withdrawing from the city on Saturday evening.
The Tegra family did not confirm to Reuters that they had captured Lalibela, but released a statement in which they spoke of a “large-scale counterattack” in several places where they achieved a “great victory”.
There are eleven churches in Lalibela that were carved at the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It is an important place for followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and also one of the main destinations for tourists traveling in Ethiopia.
Armed conflict in Tigray
The armed conflict between the central government of Ethiopia and the government of the Tigray Autonomous Region, which it accused of separatist tendencies, has been going on since November 2020. Both the government in Addis Ababa and the Tigray authorities, emanating from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, question the legitimacy of each.
Ethiopia declared a state of emergency in early November, when a representative of the anti-Ethiopian government Tigra Liberation Front (TPLF) announced that rebel forces were located near the capital, Addis Ababa.
Thousands of people have already died in the conflict. According to the United Nations, as a result of the blockade imposed by the central government on the region, millions of tigers were forced to leave their homes, and hundreds of thousands of them became threatened with starvation. The Addis Ababa government rejects allegations that humanitarian aid has been denied access to Tigray.
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