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Myanmar Baptist pastor shot dead, attackers' identity unclear

Nammye Hkun Jaw Li, 47, was a well known community leader and active in anti-military protests in Kachin state
Baptist Christian pastor Nammye Hkun Jaw Li from Myanmar's Kachin state is seen in this file image. The religious leader was killed a targeted attack by three unknown gunmen on March 18.

Baptist Christian pastor Nammye Hkun Jaw Li from Myanmar's Kachin state is seen in this file image. The religious leader was killed a targeted attack by three unknown gunmen on March 18. (Photo: RFA)

Published: March 20, 2024 11:51 AM GMT
Updated: March 20, 2024 12:13 PM GMT

Unknown assailants shot dead a Christian pastor in Myanmar's conflict-torn Kachin state on March 18 but his family and friends are in the dark about the attackers' identity.

Three men shot 47-year-old Nammye Hkun Jaw Li, a pastor from Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) at his computer shop in Mogaung township, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.

"They shot him in his stomach twice, and when he did not die, they also shot him in the head,” said a source close to the family in Nam Ma Tee village, asking to remain anonymous for security reasons. 

The slain pastor was a community leader active in anti-military protests in the state. A former township executive of the KBC, he was also involved with a community-based anti-drug organization called Pat Jasan.

He is survived by his wife and three children.

The family and villagers have called for justice. But they refrained from accusing any specific organizations as they are still in the dark about the attacker's identity, Eleven Myanmar reported.

Kachin state has been embroiled in deadly fighting between the military and rebel forces since the 2021 military coup.

Hundreds have been killed and thousands have been displaced by violence.

Analysts say the political fighting has taken a religious turn in Kachin, where Christians account for about 34 percent of an estimated 1.7 million population.

The military has targeted and attacked churches, church-run organizations and Christian-majority villages accusing them of supporting the resistance forces.

Hkalam Samson, a top Baptist leader was arrested on the orders of the military on Dec. 4, 2022. He was accused of having close ties with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), a major rebel organization and was sentenced to six years imprisonment on April 7 last year.  

In recent months, the Kachin rebels have overpowered the military junta forces, pushing them out of various areas. The KIA reportedly seized a major road, 14 junta camps and shut down a regional airport with missile attacks.

The military retaliated with indiscriminate attacks on civilians, torching homes and dropping bombs on villages in February, RFA reported.

Military shelling left two mothers and their three children killed in the state’s Kan Ni village, local sources told RFA.

More than 10,000 residents have fled homes in fear of battles across six townships, including Bhamo and Hpakant, according to civil societies in Kachin state.

At least 11 civilians were killed in heavy military artillery and airstrikes from March 1-15, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said in a statement on March 16.

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