Myanmar: Army Raid on a Church

January 19, 2023
The church destroyed by the bombardment

The Myanmar military junta launched an airstrike against the village of Lay Wah, in Karen State – in the southeast part of the country – which killed five people, including a child, and destroyed a church.

A new church was hit by bombs from the Myanmar military junta, resulting in new civilian victims, including a child and his mother. This bloody toll was caused by a raid by two fighter jets which, on January 12 in the early afternoon, hit the village of Lay Wah, in Mutraw district, in Karen State, in southeast Myanmar.

“The area is controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU), whose armed wing the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) has repeated engaged in heavy fighting with Myanmar’s regular army.”

In the January 12 attack a Baptist pastor and a Catholic deacon were also killed. Two women were injured, and hundreds of villagers fled. Karen rebels call the attack a “war crime” and demand that the junta's fuel supply be cut off.

Hundreds of residents hastily left their homes, fearing further raids and an escalation in violence. Local sources report that at least two bombs were dropped which hit two churches and a school, as well as several other buildings.

Some believe the churches were the target of the military. The fact that the school has suspended student attendance and that classes have been taking place in the forest for some time limited further deaths.

Within hours of the attack, Myanmar's exiled National Unity Government (NUG) - made up of former MPs from Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party - issued a statement condemning the raids: “We offer our condolences to all the loved ones of those who lost their lives…and pledge that we will do our utmost to bring justice for all those lives lost, be it national or international.”

The military junta has repeatedly bombed civilian targets in Karen and Kachin states and in the Sagaing and Magwe regions. Bombing campaigns have so far killed at least 460 civilians, including many children.