ROME, March 5 (UPI) -- Italian officials announced Thursday that the 88-foot Axum obelisk, which Benito Mussolini looted from Ethiopia 1937, is being returned to Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian government had been demanding the return of the 26-ton monument to the holy city of Axum for many years. Mussolini's troops dismantled it and brought it to Rome for reassembly in the Circus Maximus as a trophy of the Italian dictator's victory over Ethiopia's King Haile Selassie.
The obelisk has been dismantled and stored in a Fiumicino Airport hangar for its return. It will be flown to Addis Ababa by a private company using Russian Hantonov planes, a government spokesman said.
The obelisk was one of six believed to have been carved when Christianity first reached Ethiopia in the fourth century A.D.
Italy will send experts to Ethiopia to help re-erect the obelisk whose stone surface is covered with sculptural symbols.