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After fights, pilgrims return to Ethiopian World Heritage site Lalibela

Ethiopian Orthodox pilgrims attend the Christmas eve celebration at Saint Mary's Church, in Lalibela, Ethiopia, on January 7, 2019.   -  
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The Holy city of Lalibela has welcomed its pilgrims once again. On Friday, thousands of Ethiopians have flooded into the streets of the town which was reclaimed last month by Ethiopian government troops from the TPLF, the Tigray People's Liberation Front.

Ethiopian Orthodox celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ on January 7. On Friday, large crowds gathered in the city of Lalibela, a town in the north of Ethiopia renowned for its churches cut into the rock. If pilgrims were en masse at the UNESCO World Heritage site, security forces were also present.

The town was the stage of fights opposing Ethiopian government troops to the (TPLF), the Tigray People's Liberation Front. Last month, the military eventually reclaimed the city from the rebels. The liberation of the city is an unhoped joy for the holidaymakers like Achashmar Dereje: "I came here to celebrate the holiday with the faith that God will save us if something bad happens."

Deacon, Yohannes Mekbib is also content: "I am very happy to celebrate this holiday here after going through a war and suffering. It makes this year’s celebration special."

Wearing their Netela, a traditional white cotton garment, pilgrims joined in processions and special services.

In his Christmas message, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy called for reconciliation after fight with rebels.

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