Military bombs Myanmar Catholic Church – civilians killed

Catholics killed in Myanmar

Four civilians were killed in a night attack by the Myanmar military on a Catholic Church in the eastern part of the troubled country.

Myanmar’s leading Catholic Church figure has vehemently condemned the military shelling saying the country’s “great humanitarian tragedy needs to stop.”

“It is with immense pain that we express our concern over the attack on innocent civilians who took refuge in the Church of the Sacred Heart on the night of May 23,” said Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon in an appeal on behalf of the country’s Catholic bishops.

“The violent acts, including continuous shelling, using heavy weaponry on a frightened group of largely women and children, resulted in tragic death of four people and wounding more than eight,” he said.

All those killed or wounded were Catholics.

Sacred Heart Church near Loikaw, the capital city of Kayah state, a Catholic area, was the target of the attack late night on May 23. It is the sixth Catholic structure affected by attacks or incursions by the army.

The Irrawaddy News said the military immediately removed the dead bodies. The roof, ceiling and cross of the church were damaged.

Local sources say more than 300 people from at least 60 families had taken refuge in the church compound. Their move was due to fighting over the weekend between the military and a local anti-coup resistance group known as the Karenni People’s Defense Force (PDF).

Father Soe Naing, a spokesperson for Loikaw Diocese, said all those sheltering in the church had fled by the time church officials checked the damaged building on May 24 morning. He said thousands of people have taken refuge at churches, priests’ centers and nuns’ convents because they thought they were safe.

The attack is even more heinous because unarmed people took shelter in the church to protect their families.

“Every heart in this country weeps for the death of the innocent people,” Cardinal Bo said. “Now, hundreds die; thousands become refugees and displaced. More than 20,000 have been displaced in the recent conflict in Loikaw,” he lamented.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the Feb. 1 military coup that ousted the elected government and detained its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Protests and a civil disobedience campaign of strikes against the coup have paralyzed parts of the economy.


Vatican News

Agenzia Fides

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