Soldiers of the ruling military junta in Myanmar occupied a Catholic church in the town of Moebye in the Diocese of Pekon in east-central Myanmar from September 8 to 12.
“The soldiers chose the church as their base because they knew that young people would not attack them, that is, out of opportunism and to save themselves,” said parish priest Father Julio.
The priest told the Italian news agency Fides that the soldiers broke religious statues and furnishings before leaving the building.
“They riddled it with anti-personnel mines and hid them everywhere, on the floor, in the benches, behind the sacred books, causing harm,” said Father Julio.
“These are heinous, disrespectful acts that we condemn,” said the priest as he appealed that “churches be kept out of the conflict.”
Meanwhile, Radio Free Asia reported that the number of people fleeing fighting between junta forces and the Karen National Union in Bago region’s Mone township is nearing 20,000.
The report said about 18,669 locals from 3,236 households in 61 villages left their homes after junta airstrikes.
A woman, who declined to be named for safety reasons, said she wanted to return to her home, which she left almost four months ago.
“I had to flee in the last week of May, and was living in neighboring villages,” she said.
Nearly 90,000 residents of Kayin state have been displaced since the February 1, 2021 coup.