Kayah State Catholic Church under attack as fighting escalates

17/01/2022 Burma (International Christian Concern) – The Burmese Army (Tatmadaw) continually targets churches and civilians in predominantly Christian areas of Myanmar where thousands have fled since the coup last February.

According to UCA News, Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Doukhu Parish of Loikaw Township in Kayah State was hit by military airstrikes on January 12, according to church sources. One of the two church towers was destroyed but no civilian casualties were reported.

A local priest called the attack abominable and sacrilege. “More tragically, those who suffer because of the brutal persecution are the people of God”, he wrote on Facebook.

Since January, Loikaw, the capital of Kayah state, has seen an escalation of fighting between local defense groups opposed to the Tatmadaw and their coup. The junta launches airstrikes and artillery fire against civilians, displacing nearly half of Loikaw’s population.

According to reports cited by the UN, more than 650 homes and other civilian properties, including churches, monasteries and schools, have been burned or destroyed in Kayah State since May 2021.

At least 15 parishes in the Diocese of Loikaw which covers Kayah State have been badly affected by the escalating fighting, while at least seven Catholic churches in the diocese have been hit by artillery fire and airstrikes.

An estimated 170,000 people have left their homes in Myanmar’s Kayah state due to worsening attacks. Aid groups’ attempt to provide food and basic necessities has been hampered by the Tatmadaw.

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