Sagaing: Cardinal Bo's home village hit by airstrike

Three helicopters of the Burmese military junta attacked five villages, forcing the population to flee and damaging places of worship. An Amnesty International investigation denounces the use of landmines in Kayah State.


Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Monhla, the home village of Card. Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, is among the five localities in the Sagaing region hit on 18 July by an airstrike by the Burmese military junta. 

Myanmar Now reports three helicopters also fired at the villages of Pin Sein Khin, Kyi Su, Ka Lon and Thayet Taw, in the municipalities of Khin-U and Ye-U. 

A leader of the Armed Revolutionary Force, a resistance group based in Khin-U, confirmed that a church, two Buddhist monasteries and a pagoda were damaged. "The nuns and the priest escaped," said a woman from the village where about 700 families live in normal times.

Card. Bo was born in Monhla in 1948. On 1 February 2021, the Burmese army in a coup d'état ousted the previous civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and embarked on a harsh repression that then started the civil conflict.

In May, the cardinal had issued a statement asking the military to refrain from targeting religious sites, after four people sheltering in a church were killed in Kayah State. In December, the Cardinal celebrated Christmas with army chief General Min Aung Hlaing.

According to Amnesty International, the army is committing war crimes by placing mines around villages to fight resistance troops. The anti-golpe front is made up of the People's Defence Forces (PDF) and various ethnic militias in the country, which have been joined by various fighter groups in recent months.

During a visit to Kayah state near the Thai border, Amnesty researchers interviewed landmine survivors, health workers who had treated them and other aid workers involved in the clearance operations. The NGO said it had 'credible information' to claim that the military junta had planted landmines around at least 20 villages and also in paddy field paths. 

Despite demining attempts by the anti-graft militias, who lack the professional training and tools to remove the ordnance, the biggest problems will arise in the future. "We know from bitter experience that civilian deaths and injuries will increase over time. Mine-laying is already preventing people from returning to their homes and farmland," said  Amnesty consultant Rawya Rageh.