01/14/2023, 17.58
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Government planes bomb church, five killed, including a child

On Thursday, a Baptist pastor and a Catholic deacon were killed in Lay Wah village, two women wounded, hundreds flee. Karen rebels call the attack a "war crime”, urge the international community to cut off fuel supplies to ruling military junta. Myanmar’s government-in-exile condemns the attacks, extends condolences to victims’ families.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Myanmar’s military bombed another church, killing five people, including a woman, her child, and a Catholic cleric.

Thursday afternoon two jet fighters attacked Lay Wah, a village located in Mutraw district, Karen State, south-eastern Myanmar.

The area is under the control of the Karen National Union (KNU) whose armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), has been repeatedly engaged in heavy fighting with Myanmar’s regular army.

At least five people were killed as a result of the bombing. Hundreds of residents hastily left their homes and fled, fearing further raids and more violence.

Local sources report that at least two bombs were dropped. Over the past few days, two churches and a school, as well as several other buildings were hit.

The mother and the child died instantly, while a Baptist pastor and a Catholic deacon succumbed later to their injuries. Two other women were wounded albeit not seriously.

The child, Naw Marina, would have turned three next month; she died along with her mother, Naw La Kler Paw; Catholic deacon Naw La Kler Paw; Rev Saw Cha Aye; and the last victim, Saw Blae, a villager who helped out in church.

Four large craters now dot the area, the result of the blasts; some believe the churches were the target. But luckily, the death toll was limited because the school was closed. For some time, its pupils have been attending lessons in a nearby forest.

KNU spokesperson Padoh Saw Taw Nee described the bombing as a "war crime". For him, “It is very important to stop the supply of fuel for the junta military’s aircraft,” to limit the attacks.

“I ask again that the international community take more effective action against the junta,” he added.

Following the bombing of Lay Wah, Myanmar’s exiled National Unity Government (NUG), which includes former MPs from Aung San Suu Kyi's National League of Democracy, issued a statement condemning the raid.

“We convey our condolences to all those who have lost their lives,” the press release said. “[W]e pledge that we will do our utmost to bring justice for all those lives lost, be it national or international,”

Myanmar’s military junta has repeatedly attacked civilian targets in Karen and Kachin states and Sagaing and Magwe regions. So far, the bombing campaign has killed at least 460 civilians, including many children.

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