Massacre ‘of 750’ reported in Aksum church complex, Tigray, Ethiopia

15 JANUARY 2021

PA

The Chapel of the Tablet, St Mary of Zion, Aksum, in Tigray

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.

Mr Plaut said: “People were worried about the safety of the Ark, and when they heard troops were approaching feared they had come to steal it. All those inside the cathedral were forced out into the square.”

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.

The Ethiopian government has admitted shelling an ancient mosque in Tigray, and has promised to repair it. The al-Nejashi mosque in northern Tigray was hit by shells, and its dome, minaret, and ancient tombs, reputedly of 15 disciples of the Prophet Muhammad, were damaged. A church near by was also damaged in the attack, and the government has pledged that it will also repair it.

EEPA reported that, after the shelling, the mosque had been looted by Ethiopian and Eritrean troops, and that some civilians had died trying to protect it.

Humanitarian aid has been unable to get to the region, despite pleas from the United Nations, which estimates that 2.3 million children have been cut off from food and aid (News 1 January). More than one million people have been displaced by the fighting, and more than 50,000 have fled into Sudan. There are also concerns for the safety of many Eritrean refugees in camps in Tigray.

12 comments

  1. It is very interesting and at the same time disturbing to see how much you love the TPLF.

    Even though you said this information has to be verified, at the same you make the Amahra accountable for your propaganda.
    Massacre and Execution has been done through TPLF in the whole Tigray and the rest of ethiopia. This is also not hidden from you.

    1. I wonder why you don’t accept eye witness accounts of the event being reported by multiple neutral journalists. The list you can do is show sone empathy!
      After all, those who are dead are innocent non combatant civilians. Sad!

    2. It is hard to call you human or imbecile etc. One thing I am sure of is that you have low IQ. You can not help it brother, it is indeed in your DNA.
      Continue to hate every one except Amhara.

  2. My good guess is the government will blame some one else as usual. The usual version will be TPLF clothed in Ethiopia or Eritrean uniform, or 10000 thieves who were released in Eritrean uniforms by the TPLF. The government will blame the TPLF leadership for being behind everything even after they are dead and berried, it is shameless.

  3. I just wonder how do you get the number before even the dead were buried? Besides at this age of smart devices how come, as if it happened on the stone age era, that there is no verifiable image on the media? There is claims of division after division of an Eritrean army units being routed and even thousands of priaoners had been taken by the TPLF but not even a single image to prove its claim besides some photoshoped version that shows someone dressed as an Eritrean soldier carrying looted bed or cooking pans which by the way is making TPLF lose its support base among Eritreans for resorting to this kind of laughable but offensive propaganda that says nothing about atrocities but TPLF only seems to want to tell the world that Eritreans are dirt poor Beggars that they are stealing from the well off and economically prosperous Tigrayans.

  4. I wonder why you don’t accept eye witness accounts of the event being reported by multiple neutral journalists. The list you can do is show some empathy!
    After all, those who are dead are innocent non combatant civilians. Sad!

    1. The multiple neutral journalists were not the ones who had eye witness accounts, they’re simply reporting what people are telling them who claim they are eye witness’.

  5. Every Genocide has to be investigated with out any pre-condition.
    I am not downplaying anything.
    I am noticing to the point

    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.

  6. I also reported, the same thing just as it happened, around the exact of the massacre, when it happened. The exact # were 758 innocent civilian church believers, Orthodox Christians. Abiy Ahmed and Isayas Afeworki are responsible for all the damages done not only in Axum Mariam Tsion and the Mosque in Al-Nejashi, but also more than 50 Churches were burnt to ashes in the whole Ethiopia, starting from Somalia, to make people believe in Pentecostal (100 years old belief, made in New York city). That is an acceptable, because, it is well documented in Canada, these believers are child molesters. The oldest church of Axum taught us, Thai not touch the life of anybody, including the killer if sheltered in the church. Lord have mercy upon those who killed the innocent civilians, in particular in “Ark of the Covenant of Mariam Tsion of Axum”.

  7. i tried to find your reference about the EEPA (https://www.eepa.be/) on both their official website and facebook but could not find it, could you please update the article to include a valid reference about the Axum massacre? Thanks!

    1. That’s not how it works. All journalists are forbidden from entering Tigray. So too are humanitarian organisations. So news filters out or is smuggled out. To protect sources they cannot be revealed.

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