The conflict between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and Ethiopian federal troops, fighting alongside Amhara militia, has plagued Tigray’s northern region for months. The area is home to many churches and other places of worship. One of these churches in Aksum, Maryam Tsiyon Church, is where many Ethiopian Christians believe the Ark of the Covenant is housed.
On December 15, 2020, 750 church members reportedly died trying to defend the Ark from federal and Amhara soldiers. According to Europe External Programme with Africa (EEPA), the soldiers wanted to steal the Ark of the Covenant and place it in the capital of Ethiopia. Reports like these have become difficult to confirm, given the federal government’s lockdown of communications and travel into and out of Tigray.