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HomeEthiopian NewsLalibela's 12th Century Rock-Hewn Churches Face as gov’t forces rely on artillery...

Lalibela’s 12th Century Rock-Hewn Churches Face as gov’t forces rely on artillery shelling in the war against Militia forces 

Lalibela Rock-Hewn Churches
Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela (Ethiopia) © Shutterstock / Vegetation7 ( Source : UNESCO/file) 


12th century  Rock-Hewn churches of Lalibela facing danger of destruction as government forces intensify artillery shelling and other heavy weaponry use in their battle against the Fano Amhara combatants in the region.

Reuters cited residents from the area to report that there is a concern for the safety of  the churches. 

Fighting between Fano forces and the Ethiopian Defense Force in the Amhara region started in April of this year but it became official after the Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency in August 2023 on grounds of “invitation from Amhara regional state for intervention to restore order.” 

Last Sunday, Ethiopian government forces fired heavy artillery about 11 times from locations near the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela – according to a deacon who serves in one of the churches. Lalibela has a great religious significance for millions of Ethiopians as it is considered as a holy city for the followers of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church followers.

The shock from the artillery firing is causing a great deal of concern that it would damage the UNESCO recognized world heritage. The heritage is in need of some work to preserve it so that it is not crumbling. 

VOA Amharic on Tuesday reported that the Ethiopian government spokesperson declined to remark on the situation. 

Fano forces fought alongside the Ethiopian Defense Force during the war between the Defense Force and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) which lasted for two years. 

The problem started when Abiy Ahmed’s government wanted to disarm Fano forces in the region when it is failed to disarm the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces in accordance with the Pretoria Agreement that ended the war between the two years devastating war that is believed to have claimed nearly one million lives from the Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions. 

Lalibela is one of the areas in the Amhara region of Ethiopia where there has been sporadic fighting between Fano forces and the Ethiopian Defense Force. 

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