Missile hits church, killing four who sought refuge

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Four people sheltering in a church for safety were killed shortly after midnight May 24th

The roof and ceiling of Sacred Heart Church were damaged by the military attack on May 24. (Photo: CJ)

following a missile attack by the military in eastern Myanmar.

The missile hit Sacred Heart Church near Loikaw, the capital city of Kayah state. More than 300 people had taken refuge there due to fighting between the military and an anti-coup resistance group known as the People’s Defense Force (PDF), according to UCA News.

The roof, ceiling and cross of the church were damaged and at least four other people were injured.

Father Soe Naing said all the people sheltering at the church fled by the time church officials checked the damaged building later in the morning.

As the fighting in Myanmar increased in intensity in the weeks after the February 1st coup, many have in taken refuge at churches because they are perceived to be safe.

Fighting between the government and the insurgents has been intense in ethnic areas such as Karen, Kachin and Chin states, where many Christians live. The military steps has deployed fighter jets and heavy artillery against ethnic guerrillas and anti-coup resistance groups. At least 815 people been killed since the coup began.

“The Church is responding to humanitarian assistance but it’s a challenge for us as the number of internally displaced persons is increasing as a result of more fighting,” Father Naing told UCA News.

Anti-coup fighters seized and set fire to a police station, killing at least 13 police officers in Mobye town in Shan state on May 23rd, according to reports cited by UCA News.

About 10,000 people have been displaced in Kachin state, more than 42,000 have been forced from their homes in Karen state and thousands have fled Mindat town in Chin state due to hostilities that have escalated since May 12, according to the latest UN report.

More than 60 Christian churches have been destroyed in Kachin state since a long-standing ceasefire broke down in 2011, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide.