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Sankt Georg-kirken er en av de elleve kirkene i Lalibela som er hugget ned i fjellet.

Rebels capture Lalibela heritage town in Ethiopia – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries

Agence France-Presse wrote that the TPLF fighters captured Lalibela without a fight.

One resident said there were no government forces in the city when the rebels arrived.

– TPLF only came in the afternoon. She danced and played in the town square, says another resident.

An eyewitness says that most of its residents have left the city and traveled to the countryside.

Reuters news agency spoke with a resident, Sifu, by phone. He says local forces cooperating with the government fled on Wednesday night before the rebels arrived on Friday.

– We asked them to stay or at least give us their Kalashnikovs, but they refused and fled while in five ambulances and several trucks and cars, says Sevo.

Lalibela is an important religious center. During the Orthodox Christmas celebration on January 7, the city is occupied by up to 80,000 pilgrims.

Photo: EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

religious center

Lalibela is located in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia. Amhara is the neighboring region of Tigray, where fighting has erupted between rebels and militants since November last year.

The city is famous for its magnificent churches carved into the bottom of the mountain. Thus the churches are built from one large piece of stone, which is attached to the rock.

The only way to get down to the area around the churches is by stairs and tunnels.

The area with 11 churches also contains an extensive system of caves and catacombs.

It dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978.

Ethiopia was Christianized as early as the fourth century, as one of the first countries in the world.

Lalibela is named after King Gabr Meskel Lalibela, who started construction in the last century.

God reportedly told him to build a “new Jerusalem,” and angels are said to have helped in the construction.

Lalibela is located at an altitude of 2,500 meters, about 700 kilometers from the capital, Addis Ababa.

The United States warns

– We have seen reports that forces from Tigray have captured Lalibela. “We urge the TPLF to protect this cultural heritage,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

The United States urges all parties to the conflict to cease the violence and allow humanitarian access to the Tigray region.

On Wednesday, USAID leader Samantha Power said that only 10 percent of emergency needs were covered in the Tigray region.

– Between mid-July and August 2, 1,500 trucks were needed. Only 153 survived. That’s 10 percent of the need, Bauer said.

The United States estimates that up to 900,000 people are starving in Tigray. Ethiopian government forces and their allies are accused of destroying crops, looting food stocks and threatening farmers.

A picture from another angle shows how St. George's Church was carved into the rock.

A picture from another angle shows how St. George’s Church was carved into the rock.

Photo: EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

Reports of bodies in border rivers

On Monday, local authorities in the eastern part of neighboring Sudan said that about 50 bodies were found in a river bordering Ethiopia, many of them bound and shot.

A Sudanese official confirmed its discovery in Kassala state last week and said it was likely to be a war casualty in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

Two Ethiopian health workers in the Hamdiyat district confirmed that they saw the bodies floating in the Tekezi River, which on the Sudanese side of the border is called Setit.

The river flows through one of the Tigray districts badly affected by fighting during the nine-month war between regional and Ethiopian government forces.

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