750 reportedly dead after attack on Ethiopia church

The Maryam Tsiyon Church in Aksum is believed by Ethiopian Christians to house the Ark of the Covenant.

A Belgium-based peacebuilding non-profit is reporting 750 people killed in an attack on Ethiopia church.

The attack was detailed in the January 9 'Situation Report' of the Europe External Programme with Africa (EEPA). 

The non-profit said people who were hiding in the church were brought out and shot in the square in front of the building. 

The attack happened at the Maryam Tsiyon Church in Aksum, also known as the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion.

The church is located in Tigray, a region in the north that is home to many churches and monasteries but also beset by conflict. 

The church is part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which has around 36 million members.  

EEPA said that locals believe the attackers wanted to make off with the Ark of the Covenant believed by Ethiopian Christians to be housed in the church. The locals told EEPA that the attackers wanted to take the Ark of the Covenant to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. 

The organisation said the massacre was carried out by Ethiopian federal troops and Amhara militia.

Ethiopia is home to 36 million Orthodox Christians, the world's second-largest Orthodox population after Russia.