Updated: September 20, 2021 05:57 AM GMT
At least 18 homes and a government building were burned down in Chin state's Thantlang township by the Myanmar military's heavy artillery fire on Sept. 18 during a three-hour clash with the Chinland Defence Force. (Photo: AFP)
A Baptist pastor has been shot dead in Myanmar’s battle-ravaged Chin state as the military intensifies attacks on civilians in the predominantly Christian region.
The latest military attack led to at least 19 houses being destroyed by artillery fire in Thantlang township, Chin state, on Sept. 18 following fighting with local resistance groups.
Pastor Cung Biak Hum, 31, was shot by soldiers while he was on the way to help put out a fire in a house hit by the shelling, according to Christian sources.
The Chin Baptist Convention (CBC) has condemned the attack on civilian houses, the killing of the pastor and removing his finger to steal a wedding ring by the military, saying such acts were “shocking and horrible.”
“The military’s attack on church buildings, occupying churches and destroying church property, and bombing civilians’ homes is an insult to the religion and the believers,” the CBC said in a Sept. 19 statement.
Tom Andrews, UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, tweeted: “The murder of a Baptist minister and bombing of homes in Chin state are the latest examples of the living hell being delivered daily by junta forces against the people of Myanmar. The world needs to pay close attention. More importantly, the world needs to act.”
More than 1,800 people from villages in Thantlang township have already fled across the border to Mizoram as fighting rages
Nearly 10,000 people from Thantlang township have fled to neighboring Hakha township and Mizoram in northeast India due to the military attacks over the weekend, according to media reports.
More than 1,800 people from villages in Thantlang township have already fled across the border to Mizoram as fighting rages between the military and resistance groups.
Catholic and Baptist churches in Chin state, an impoverished region, were targeted by the military in July and August as soldiers camped in the churches and destroyed church property.
A Baptist church was hit by artillery shelling in Thantlang on Sept. 14 while the military also attacked civilian homes that led to several people being injured, according to Chin state-based media.
The reports said at least three people were wounded and two houses were shelled in Hakha, capital of Chin state, during the army’s assault on civilians on Sept. 18.
More than 16,700 people have already been displaced in several townships in the western state since fighting flared up in May.
More than 206,000 people have been displaced in Chin, Kayah, Karen, Kachin and Shan states due to the escalation of the conflict since the Feb. 1 coup and more than 3 million people are in need of aid, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The military has stepped up troop deployment to crack down on resistance groups, especially in Chin state, Sagaing and Magwe regions in northwestern Myanmar, following a call for a people’s defensive war by the National Unity Government, the shadow government in exile set up by ousted lawmakers, activists and ethnic groups.
Despite calls for the cessation of violence by Western and Southeast Asian countries, Myanmar’s brutal military has continued its oppression of civilians in rural areas and ethnic regions that has claimed over 1,100 lives since the Feb. 1 coup.
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