Government soldiers reported attacked a Catholic church in the Diocese of Loikaw in Myanmar on Wednesday, October 13, said a report on Radio Veritas Asia.
The report quoted a Jesuit priest, Father Wilbert Mireh, saying that artillery shells hit the Church of the Immaculate Conception, a four-year-old structure in Phruso town.
“The fifth Catholic church in Kayah State, where Loikaw diocese is located, was attacked by the military regime within five months,” the report quoted Father Mireh.
“The parishioners know very well how much of their labor and love has been put into building that beautiful church, standing tall on top of a hill,” he added.
“It is very much heartbreaking to see it now being vandalized and desecrated by the godless barbarians,” said the priest.
“They shall never break our spirits and our determination to bring about justice and truth,” he said.
A Dominican priest named only as Dareh in the report said insurgents attacked the government forces but the soldiers fired at the residential area.
A nun named Zarchi said the soldiers were camped at a Buddhist monastery and were firing from the compound.
Meanwhile, Southeast Asian foreign ministers were set to hold an emergency meeting on Friday (October 15) to discuss barring Myanmar’s junta chief from an upcoming ASEAN summit.
News of the meeting came after the junta spokesman confirmed that Erywan Yusof, the special envoy from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, had “postponed” a trip to Myanmar scheduled for earlier this week.
The Tuesday trip was postponed because Myanmar’s military leadership did not allow Erywan to meet with all parties, including deposed National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar’s military, led by Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, toppled the elected government on Feb. 1, claiming that last year’s polls were rigged.
Since the coup, Myanmar security forces have killed close to 1,170 people, mostly anti-coup protesters.
Friday’s unscheduled meeting to discuss the participation of Min Aung Hlaing was initiated by ASEAN chair Brunei.
Until now, Myanmar military-appointed officials have participated in all ASEAN sub-meetings since the coup and splashed photographs of these virtual gatherings on state media and social media.
Myanmar, which became part of the 10-member ASEAN in 1997, has been in a similar position vis-à-vis the bloc before.
It was to take over the revolving chairmanship of ASEAN in 2006 when the country was under military junta rule. But it was persuaded to give the position to the Philippines after Western countries threatened to boycott ASEAN meetings. – with a report from Radio Free Asia