By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - Four civilians were killed and eight more injured in an attack by Myanmar’s ruling army on a Catholic Church in the east of the troubled nation, leading junta opponents said Monday.
The Ministry of International Cooperation of the National Unity Government (NUG) said, “forces fired a heavy artillery shell at a Catholic Church in Kayan Thar Yar village in Kayah State,” also known as Karenni State.
The NUG was set up by ousted members of parliament and leaders of anti-coup protests and ethnic minorities who say they want to end military rule and restore democracy.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the February 1 coup that ousted a democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, which was started its second term after a landslide election victory in November.
Monday’s attack underscored broader concerns about violence against Christian minorities in the mainly Buddhist nation of 57-million people.
“Elderly people and children were hiding at the Church after fleeing from their homes due to the cruel attacks on villagers from the terrorist junta ‘SAC’ forces,” said the NUG’s international cooperation ministry.
“The junta forces (also known as the Tatmadaw) continue to use heavy battlefield weapons to bombard and attack innocent civilians,” it added in a statement obtained by Worthy News.
The ministry said that (anti-Christian) attacks happen across Myanmar, also known as Burma, to “threaten the brave people into submission so that they can continue their reign of terror.”
Two days earlier, the army raided a Karen Baptist Church in Insein township in the Yangon region, according to NUG officials. “Troops “destroyed property and ransacked the church, and brutally beat and detained the church pastor, along with two other young men,” NUG’s international cooperation ministry said.
One of the two young men was reportedly a disabled person. Their whereabouts were not immediately clear Monday, and the NUG leaders did not release their names, perhaps amid security concerns.
There was no immediate comment from the junta, but Worthy News obtained footage of the alleged attacks showing colossal destruction.
In a statement, NUG’s Union Minister, H.E. Dr. Sasa, said he urged the international community to help end this “senseless killing, destruction, and pillage.”
The killings of Christians in especially eastern Myanmar came amid heavy fighting.
Since Sunday, dozens of Myanmar security force members were killed, rebel fighters said, after heavy fighting in the coup-hit country's eastern fringe.
It comes while the military uses lethal force to crackdown on dissent. The civilian death toll has climbed to at least 815 people, according to a local monitoring group.
They were likely to include Christians fleeing bombardments.