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Myanmar military bombings hit two churches

Churches in Christian-majority Chin state have come under attack as the military seeks to regain control of a key town
A Myanmar junta air strike destroyed this Baptist church in Ramthlo, Falam township, Chin state on Aug. 12, 2023. Aerial bombings on May 11-12 left a Catholic Church and a Baptist Church damaged.

A Myanmar junta air strike destroyed this Baptist church in Ramthlo, Falam township, Chin state on Aug. 12, 2023. Aerial bombings on May 11-12 left a Catholic Church and a Baptist Church damaged. (Photo: RFA/Citizen Journalist)

Published: May 17, 2024 08:46 AM GMT
Updated: May 17, 2024 08:51 AM GMT

Aerial bombings by military junta have left a Catholic Church and a Baptist Church damaged in a village in the Christian-majority Chin state in western Myanmar, says a report.

The churches in the village of Lungtak near the town of Tonzang were hit as the military launched an offensive to flush out ethnic rebels from the area between May 11 and 12, Fides news agency reported on May 15.

The bombardment also destroyed five houses, prompting terrified villagers to flee their homes.

The affected Catholic Church is under Kalay Diocese and the local parish priest Titus En Za Khan managed to flee to nearby forests with local Catholics to escape bombings.

"The violence continues to impact the civilian population, especially in the area of Sagaing, part of the diocese of Kalay," a local Catholic told Fides.

In Chin state, which shares borders with India and Bangladesh, the military has been engaged in a deadly battle to regain control of the territories from several ethnic armed rebel groups including the Chin National Army (CNA) and Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA).

Due to ongoing fighting, a humanitarian crisis is prevailing in the state, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), an NGO with special advisory status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

The military’s indiscriminate attacks including aerial bombings on civilian homes, schools and churches have worsened the crisis in the various parts of the state, CHRO said.

Reports say the military has intensified attacks in Chin state after resistance fighters from Chin, Magwe and Rakhine areas joined by newly emerged People’s Defense Forces (PDF) recently captured the strategically important town of Kyindwe in the Chin Hills of the Arakan Mountains.

The 2021 military coup that toppled the democratically elected civilian government of the National League for Democracy (NLD) plunged Myanmar into a civil war.

The coup pushed Myanmar to military rule again after a brief stint of democracy in a country that endured iron-fisted military rule for about five decades since independence from Britain in 1948.

The military attempted to crush strong anti-coup protesters across the country with brute force, leaving thousands killed, injured, and arrested.

The junta forces targeted churches, church-run organizations and Christian villages as some of the states including Chin, Shan, Kachin, and Kayah are predominantly Christian where largely Christian ethnic rebels have been battling the military.

However, in recent months about 20 ethnic rebel groups joined by PDF, the armed wing of the shadowy, exiled National Unity Government (NUG), have taken control of nearly all border states of Myanmar and control about half of the nation’s territories.

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