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Gunmen shoot Myanmar priest while he celebrates Mass

Wounding of Father Paul Khwi Shane Aung in Kachin state comes a month after Baptist pastor was shot and killed
Fr. Paul Khwi Shane Aung, the parish priest of St. Patrick's church in Mohnyin town, Kachin state.

Fr. Paul Khwi Shane Aung, the parish priest of St. Patrick's church in Mohnyin town, Kachin state. ( Photo by Myitkyina diocese )

Published: April 12, 2024 08:49 AM GMT
Updated: April 12, 2024 09:53 AM GMT

Unknown assailants gunned down and seriously injured a priest while celebrating morning Mass in Myanmar’s conflict-stricken northern Kachin state on April 12.

Two men opened fire on  40-year-old Father Paul Khwi Shane Aung, parish priest of St. Patrick’s Church in Mohnyin town under Myitkyina diocese, at 6:30 a.m, according to Church sources.

“They were wearing black clothes and masks and entered the church on a motorcycle to shoot the priest three times,” U Zaw, a local catechist, told UCA News.

The motive behind the attack is not yet known.

Zaw said the injured priest was rushed to a hospital in Mohnyin and was later moved to a hospital in Myitkyina, the state capital.

The attack came nearly a month after 47-year-old Nammye Hkun Jaw Li,  a pastor with the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), was shot dead at his computer shop in Mogaung township on March 18.

The killers are still at large.

An activist based in Kachin state said anti-social elements are fomenting religious and ethnic conflict as the civil war in the military-ruled nation has entered a critical phase.

Ethnic rebel group, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), has seized several key military bases and outposts since it started an offensive on March 3.

Lwalje, a key border trade town near the Chinese border is currently under the control of the KIA.

“We need to be vigilant. The [shooting] incidents show warning signs,” the activist said on April 12.

Clergy, pastors and Church-run institutions are being targeted by the military, which toppled the civilian government in February 2021, for supporting the rebels.

Dr. Hkalam Samson, a prominent KBC pastor, was arrested on Dec. 4, 2022, for his alleged links with the KIA. He was sentenced to six years on April 7, 2023.

Kachin state’s 1.7 million people are mainly Christians, some 116,000 of whom are Catholics.

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