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DW Amharic - Fighting Between Government Forces and Fano Forces in Lalibela

Disclaimer: This is an English translation of an Amharic report taken from DW Amharic and is intended solely for information purposes.

DW Amharic - Fighting between Government forces and Fano forces in Lalibela

May 22, 2024

Yesterday, fighting between the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and Fano fighters took place in Lalibela town of North Wollo Zone in Amhara Region according to local residents who spoke to DW. According to witnesses it began at 8 am in the morning and lasted until 5 pm. During occasional outbreaks of fighting in the area vibrations created from the sound of heavy artillery weapons have created fears of further damage to the ancient Holy Churches of St. Lalibela, say residents.

Fighting in Amhara Region has continued for months since last August (Hamle 2015 EC) without a solution. The conflict has had a tendency of intensifying in various areas while slowing in other areas. Yesterday in Lalibela town, fighting between the ENDF and Fano forces which began at around 8 am in the morning lasted until 5 pm say residents of Lalibela town who opted for anonymity out of fear for their safety. One source said though the fighting had encompassed the periphery of Lalibela town there was intense sound of gunfire near the Lalibela Airport.

The witness said, “the fighting encompassed all four corners of Lalibela…but the most intense gunfire was in the area of Lalibela Airport, it was also intense in the center of Lalibela town where the army took a defensive position firing heavy artillery from inside the town outwards, starting from morning and lasting until night there were sounds of intense gunfire.”

Another town resident also told DW heavy artillery was fired from the center of Lalibela towards the exterior of the town. Similarly another resident of Lalibela who opted for anonymity said there were sounds of heavy gunfire in the town throughout the day. Time and time again, fighting in the town and in the periphery of the St. Lalibela Holy Churches and especially the vibrations caused from the firing of heavy artillery weapons could further damage the churches, explains the source.

Another resident of Lalibela expressed having similar fears saying, “...there is no question about it when it comes to the matter of the vibrations, because the gunfire is approximately 100 meters from the churches, therefore the sound and vibrations from the gunfire from the heavy artillery could damage the Holy Churches.”

At the time of this report at 1 pm, though there is some activity and stores are partially open, it is not possible to enter or leave Lalibela town according to residents. Yesterday starting at 5 pm gunfire in the area stopped; however the town is currently under ENDF control according to sources. Regarding casualties in fighting yesterday it has not been possible to get a response from either side. Efforts to get a response from the Amhara Region Peace and Security Bureau Head by sending a written request did not result in a response. Efforts to receive a response from Fano were also not successful. Since the collapse of peace and the start of the six month state of emergency in August 2023 (Hamle 2015 EC), it was renewed again in February 2024 (Tir 2016 EC) for four months which is now two months from ending.

Alemnew Mekonnen

Shewaye Legesse

Mantegaftot Sileshi


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