Government soldiers ransacked and burned a Catholic church in a village in eastern Myanmar on Wednesday, June 15, media reports said.
The St. Matthew Catholic Church in Dawnyaykhu in Phruso Township in Karenni State was gutted by flames, according to a Catholic News Agency report based on a video footage posted by the rebel Karenni National Defense Force (KNDF).
“On June 14th, the military burned down more than four houses in Dawnyaykhu village. On June 15th, the military burned down the Catholic Church in the village for no apparent reason at around 3 p.m.,” the report quoted a KNDF official.
The KNDF video purports to show government soldiers approaching the white church building as smoke and flames pour out of the windows.
Gunfire can be heard in the background. The footage shows isolated fires burning in different locations inside the building.
Neither the village nor members or leaders of the church were involved in any of the local fighting, the CNA report quoted a source.
The soldiers were reportedly under orders to burn down the church after occupying the building and looting valuables including food collected for the poor.
About 100 places of worship — monasteries and churches — have been destroyed in two regions and two states in Myanmar more than a year after the military coup in February 2021 that plunged the country into chaos and violence.
Radio Free Asia earlier reported that already 15 Buddhist monasteries in Sagaing region, five Buddhist monasteries and one Christian church in Magway region, 62 Christian churches in Chin state, and 13 Christian churches and a mosque in Kayah state have been destroyed.
The report said that in some cases, soldiers raided the buildings and beat locals who had taken shelter there.
Residents of Sagaing region in northwestern Myanmar said several Buddhist monasteries and Christian churches in Ye-U, Mingin, Yinmarbin and Khin-U had been burned down, while other monasteries had been destroyed in Ye-U, Tanze, Kalay, Myaung, Pale and Ayadaw townships.
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