(Source: EEPA Situation Report) –
According to a witness, Debre Damo Monastery was bombed by Eritrean soldiers on 11 January 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 9 January 2021 utill 15 January 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 12 January 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 14 January 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.