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Guardians of Sacred Grounds Worried about Ethiopia Conflict

Rebels from Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region have taken control of the town of Lalibela, a Unesco world heritage site in neighbouring Amhara region. Lalibela, home to 13th Century churches hewn from rock, is a holy site for millions of Orthodox Christians. There are 11 medieval monolithic cave churches carved out of rock that date from the 12th and 13th Centuries. They were built as a substitute for pilgrimages to the Holy Land, which was unreachable at the time. The deputy mayor of Lalibela, Mandefro Tadesse, told the BBC that the town was under the control of the Tigray rebels. He said there had not been any shooting, but residents were fleeing from the town, and he was concerned about the safety of the historic churches. “This is the world’s heritage, and we must cooperate to guarantee that this treasure is preserved,” Mr Mandefro said. Fighting has now spreading into Amhara and Afar, another region bordering Tigray.