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Priest threatened with death by Myanmar military

Soldiers accused him of collecting funds for rebel fighters and threatened to shoot him

UCA News reporter

UCA News reporter

Published: November 01, 2021 06:58 AM GMT

Updated: November 02, 2021 05:39 AM GMT

Priest threatened with death by Myanmar military

An aerial view on Oct. 30 of Thantlang in Chin state, where more than 160 buildings have been destroyed by shelling by the Myanmar military, according to local media. (Photo: AFP)

A Catholic priest from Pekhon Diocese in Myanmar's Shan state was stopped and threatened with death by soldiers.

A senior clergyman told UCA News that “the priest was back to his parish safely after having been threatened by the soldiers.”

The priest encountered soldiers on his way back from Taunggyi to his parish on Oct. 30, church sources said. He was returning in a car with five other people after buying fertilizers for the garden in his parish.

The soldiers stopped the car and inspected the passengers’ bags. They allegedly accused the priest of collecting funds for a local militia and threatened to shoot him dead if he was seen traveling again, the sources added.

The soldiers apparently suspected that the priest and his companions were planning to use a bag of fertilizer for making explosive devices.

Pekhon Diocese is one of the worst-affected areas along with Loikaw Diocese in Kayah state due to the escalating conflict between the military and the combined rebel forces of the Karenni Army and Karenni People's Defence Force (KPDF).

The latest incident comes a day after 160 buildings including two churches were burned down in the deserted town of Thantlang

More than 100,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes into churches, convents and makeshift camps even while the military is targeting priests and pastors, bombing and vandalizing churches in the predominantly Christian region of Kayah and Chin states.

Furthermore, church social workers have also been targeted, with seven working for the Catholic Church’s social arm, Caritas (Karuna), arrested in Loikaw where they were helping internally displaced persons.

The latest incident comes a day after 160 buildings including two churches were burned down in the deserted town of Thantlang in Chin state by the military.

Nearly 10,000 people from the town had already fled into safe areas since late September due to indiscriminate attacks by the military. Priests and pastors have been arrested while many unarmed civilians, including Christians, have been killed.

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The latest military assault on Christians in Myanmar’s ethnic regions is not the first time the minority has been attacked and targeted. Christians have borne the brunt of the decades-old civil war and faced persecution at the hands of the military, which ruled for more than five decades.

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