Bombing of Our Lady of Fatima church in Demoso township was a ‘deliberate and planned attack’, residents say
The damaged ceiling of Our Lady of Fatima Church following the military airstrike in Saun Du La village, Demoso township in Myanmar on March 8. (Photo provided)
A Catholic church in Kayah state suffered major damage in a Myanmar military airstrike.
The ceiling and windows of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Saun Du La village in Demoso township were badly damaged, church sources said.
Myanmar’s military junta has continued to target churches and civilians in Christian strongholds like Kayah state, ignoring calls from religious leaders to protect their places of worship.
Thank you. You are now subscribed to the daily newsletter
keep up to date Don’t miss the latest news
Local sources said a military plane bombed the church around 2 a.m. on March 8 assuming it was sheltering people fleeing the ongoing conflict.
“As there was no ongoing armed conflict in this area, this was clearly a deliberate and planned attack on the Catholic Church and innocent civilians to maximize the human death toll and wipe out religion” , said a priest.
Eight Catholic churches have been hit by artillery fire and airstrikes by the Burmese army in the Diocese of Loikaw since the conflict between military and rebel forces erupted in May 2021.
Some 16 out of 38 parishes in the Diocese of Loikaw have been abandoned by priests, nuns and parishioners who have fled to safe areas following intensified fighting
The worst attack was reported at Sacred Heart Church in Kanyantharyear, a village near Loikaw, on May 23, 2021, which left four Catholics dead and eight others injured in artillery fire.
The Catholic Bishops have called for humanitarian aid to help the thousands of internally displaced people.
“Human dignity and the right to life can never be compromised,” the bishops said 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 out of 38 parishes in the Diocese of Loikaw have been abandoned by priests, nuns and parishioners who have fled to safe areas following intensified fighting.
Attacks on civilian homes forced people to move to safe areas, including church institutions and even jungles.
The UN said half of Loikaw’s population has been uprooted by the recent conflict and around 90,000 people from Kayah state have been displaced. Local aid groups have estimated that at least 170,000 people in Kayah state have fled their homes.
Myanmar has witnessed intense fighting between junta and rebel forces in recent months in ethnic areas including predominantly Christian Kayah, Chin, Karen and Kachin states.