Karen group accuses military of deliberate attack against civilians in area where there was no fightingChurch destroyed ‘in air strike by Myanmar military’ – UCA News
This handout photo from local media group ‘Kantarawaddy Times’ taken and released on May 24, 2021 shows a damaged church in which four people taking refuge were killed, in an army shelling in Loikaw in Myanmar’s eastern Kayah State. (Photo: AFP/Kantarawaddy Times)
By UCA News reporter Published: November 11, 2022 06:02 AM GMT
Days after Pope Francis called for an end to conflict and the pursuit of dialogue, Myanmar’s junta has reportedly continued to target churches and schools.
An air strike by the military regime destroyed a church and a school in a village in Myanmar’s southeastern Karen state on Nov. 9, according to a statement from the Karen National Union.
There were no reported civilian casualties during the attack.
The Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) said two fighter jets dropped two bombs on Ta Baw Koh Der village, Hpapun township around 1 a.m. on Nov. 9 destroying a church, a primary school and a house.
All villagers immediately fled to the forest and were not able to take anything with them, according to the KHRG.
“No humanitarian organization has been able to access the displacement site. Villagers are in need of emergency support such as rice, food and medicine,” the rights group said.
Local sources said it was a deliberate attack against civilians by the military as there was no fighting in the region.
The junta has stepped up its offensive against militia groups in several regions by using air strikes after ground troops sustained casualties.
Dozens of churches, convents and clinics have been attacked and badly damaged since the military seized power on Feb. 1, 2021.
At least 92 religious or sacred sites across the country including the predominantly Christian regions of Kachin, Kayah and Chin states were destroyed or damaged between February 2021 and May 2022. according to a report by the International Commission of Jurists which cited news sources released on Oct. 28.
Myanmar bishops have called for all parties to refrain from attacking places of worship, schools and hospitals and to respect life.
The Karen community has faced air strikes and heavy shelling by the military which has led to an increasing number of civilians seeking refuge in jungles and church facilities as well as taking shelter in neighboring Thailand.
Karen communities around the world have called for sanctions against Myanmar companies involved in the supply of aviation fuel to the military and sanctions to stop international companies from being involved in any aspect of the supply of aviation fuel and equipment.
Karen state has seen more than 60 years of conflict between the military and the Karen National Union, which has left over 100,000 refugees, mostly ethnic Karen, in camps along the Thai border.
The Karen, also known as Kayin, account for about 5 million of Myanmar’s 54 million people and are the third largest ethnic group after the Bamar and Shan. The majority of Karen are Theravada Buddhists while around 15 percent are Christians.