The Eritrean attack on the ancient Debre Damo Monastery

Source: EEPA Situation Report

According to a witness, Debre Damo Monastery was bombed by Eritrean soldiers on January 11, 2021. The soldiers fired heavy artillery from Sero, Bazet and an intersection road towards Feresmay town.

“The upper part of the monastery was hit by more than 18 artiliers and in total 28 artiliers landed in the monastery” says the eye witness. The shelling lasted from 7am till 4pm.

The witness states more than 100 heavy artillery landed at the foot of the monastery without any casualties. “During the bombing, all monks were inside the church. The monks were on a weekly scheduled prayers program from Jan 09, 2021 till January 15, 2021,” the witness added.

The witness says there was no immediate damage to the Abuna Aregawi Church but 26 shelter houses of monks were completely destroyed and burnt. “Metal sheets and wood parts” of the houses were burnt to the ground.

Historical and heritage houses which were built by  Aste. Yohannes IV, Ras Alula, Ras Seyoum and Enda Raesi were among those completely destroyed and burned. “These houses were also heritages of the monastery,” says the witness.

According to the report of the eye witness, there are 150 houses which were built by Aste. Yohannes IV to be used as a shelter for monks.

The witness says that a monk, aged 67, was killed by the bombing while praying inside his house: “His body was dispersed all over the area and it was very difficult to collect the body parts for burial.”

The report states on Jan 12, 2021, Eritrean soldiers approached the monastery and said they wanted to inspect the monastery. “They fired three bullets to the sky to scare us (the monks) and make their request accepted as the thick leather rope used to climb was already pulled up” says the witness.

According to the witness, when the monks asked the Eritrean soldiers why they bombed the monastery; the soldiers said they were informed that Debrestion and his soldiers were hiding in the monastery and that is why we were shelling the monastery for the whole day.

The witness says 6 Eritrean soldiers came back on January 14, 2021 and asked to search everything in the monastery: “All houses of the monks were searched one by one except the church and when they knew nothing was inside, the soldiers regretted their action” says the witness.

“When we told them about the death of one of our monks from the bombing, the soldiers said you are lucky that you only lost one person; 8 (7 christian and 1 muslium) of our soldiers were killed by a snake” says the witness.

The witness states 30 Eritreans soldiers came with a car and looted grains, television, generators and other goods of farmers from the surrounding community. Later the car overturned while travelling to a place called Gidera and 28 of them died and only 2 survived.

According to the witness, Eritrean soldiers still operate in the area surrounding the monastery and sometimes they come to the foot of the monastery but never climb again.


  1. This is one of the most revered world heritage. Only ISIS have gone mad on such heritages. It meant a lot for the whole Coptic Christians in Ethiopia. Abiy is purposely destroying the Coptic Christianity in Ethiopia like Mohamed Grange and Yodit. It is not without any reason he called his party for prosperity. He is a strong follower of the prosperity gospel. He wants to change all Ethiopians to follow his religion. This is something that has slipped many journalists from any attention.

    Debre Damo is one of Ethiopia’s most important monasteries and is thought to date back to Aksumite times and the 6th-century reign of King Gebre Meskel. The monastery’s formidable cliffs make for one of Ethiopia’s most memorable experiences (for men, at least – women aren’t allowed up). To reach the monastery, you’ll need to scale a sheer 15m cliff; there’s a thick leather rope to help you climb and the monks will tie a second line around your torso and help pull you up.

    The whole experience takes some nerves and a good head for heights. (If you’re short of confidence, don’t look at the laces holding the strips of rope together until after you’ve come down!)

    It was Abuna Aregawi, one of the most revered of the Nine Saints, who established Debre Damo monastery atop a sheer-sided amba (flat-topped mountain).

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