Near Falam, a Baptist church and village homes were set on fire in retaliation to an ambush by local ethnic militias. In Phruso artillery shells hit the Immaculate Conception church, the fifth Catholic church in the Diocese of Loikaw to suffer such a same fate in the past few months.
Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Churches have been targeted by the Myanmar military in two separate incidents.
In the eastern Chin State, where for months fighting has pitted local ethnic militias and Myanmar’s ruling junta, a Baptist church was completely destroyed along with some houses in Rialti, a village a few miles from the city of Falam.
According to a witness who spoke to Radio Free Asia, the attack was a reprisal after an army convoy was ambushed by Chin militias on Wednesday.
When residents saw the soldiers arrive, they fled into the forest, from where they saw their homes and church burn.
A junta spokesman denied the claim, saying that “It’s not right to blame the military every time something happens during a battle”, adding that the military in Myanmar “are rebuilding religious buildings that were destroyed by fire”.
Conversely, from India, the Chin Human Rights Organisation confirmed the incident, calling it a “war crime”, pointing out that other Christian churches have already ended up in the army's crosshair.
On the same day, shelling hit the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Phruso, a city in the Diocese of Loikaw, in the western Kayah State,
The building, which was built four years, ago, suffered damages to the roof and the walls. No one was killed or wounded.
The military deliberately targeted the church since it was far from other buildings, Father Wilbert Mireh, a local Jesuit, told Radio Veritas.
This is the fifth Catholic church in the Diocese of Loikaw to be shelled by the army since repression began after the 1 February coup.