Bombing of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Demoso township was a 'deliberate and planned attack,' say locals
The damaged ceiling of Our Lady of Fatima Church following the military airstrike in Saun Du La village in Myanmar's Demoso township on March 8. (Photo supplied)
A Catholic church in Kayah state has sustained major damage in an airstrike by Myanmar’s military.
The ceiling and windows of the Our Lady of Fatima Church in Saun Du La village in Demoso township were severely damaged, said church sources.
Myanmar’s military junta has continued targeting churches and civilians in Christian strongholds like Kayah state, ignoring calls by church leaders to protect their places of worship.
Local sources said a military aircraft bombed the church around 2am on March 8 assuming it was sheltering people fleeing the ongoing conflict.
“As there was no ongoing armed conflict in that area, it was clearly a deliberate and planned attack against the Catholic Church and innocent civilians to maximize the human death toll and annihilate the religion,” a priest said.
Eight Catholic churches have been hit by artillery shelling and airstrikes by Myanmar’s military in Loikaw Diocese since the conflict between military and rebel forces erupted in May 2021.
Some 16 parishes out of 38 in Loikaw Diocese have been abandoned by priests, nuns and parishioners who have fled to safe areas following intensified fighting
The worst attack was reported from Sacred Heart Church in Kanyantharyear, a village near Loikaw, on May 23, 2021, that left four Catholics dead and eight others wounded in artillery shelling.
Catholic bishops have called for humanitarian assistance to help the thousands of internally displaced persons.
“Human dignity and the right to life can never be compromised," said the bishops in a Jan. 14 letter that demanded “respect for life, respect for the sanctity of sanctuary in places of worship, hospitals and schools.”
Some 16 parishes out of 38 in Loikaw Diocese have been abandoned by priests, nuns and parishioners who have fled to safe areas following intensified fighting.
The attacks on civilian homes have forced people to move to safe areas including church institutions and even jungles.
The UN said half the population of Loikaw has been uprooted by the recent conflict and around 90,000 people from Kayah state have been displaced. Local aid groups estimated at least 170,000 people in Kayah state have fled their homes.
Myanmar has witnessed intense fighting between the junta and rebel forces in the past few months in ethnic areas, including predominantly Christian Kayah, Chin, Karen and Kachin states.
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