A Kachin church was razed and the pastor was detained for hours together by Burmese Army troops in the unabated civil war in Burma’s northern Kachin State, said eyewitnesses.
The soldiers entered the Church of Assembly of God in ward No. 1 in Muk Chyik village, six miles from Waingmaw town and detained Pastor Yelawng Lum Hkawng. Hpalawng Lum Hkawng, who was in the church compound, was shot in the leg, according to eyewitnesses.
“The entire church, the inside stage and the ‘Offering Box’ were hit and destroyed by Burmese soldiers. There were no covered wooden planks in the front of the building,” an eyewitness told Kachin News Group.
Four villagers, who were suspected to be aiding the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), were also arrested by Burmese soldiers, said villagers.
“The detainees Lahawng Hkawng Hawng and Shayu Lum Hawng were severely tortured by Burmese soldiers after their hands, legs and necks were tied with ropes,” an eyewitness recounted.
The pastor and three other villagers were taken to the nearby military base located near Washawng Dam. However, Maung Maung, the owner of a rice grinder machine was taken to the Infantry Battalion No. 58 based in Waingmaw town, eyewitnesses said.
During the army operation in ward no. 1 of the village, the soldiers burnt down the house of Jum Hpawk’s family. The soldiers also looted money from the Tithe box and micro credit boxes of two NGOs— the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Metta Development Foundation, villagers said.
The heinous acts by the Burmese soldiers were carried out after clashes with the KIA in areas near the villages from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. local time. The government troops were from Magway-based Light Infantry Division No. 88, added villagers.
The clashes occurred between the two sides when over 100 Burmese troops headed for Washawng from Waingmaw at 8 a.m., said eyewitnesses.
At least seven Burmese Army soldiers were killed in the two hour skirmish, confirmed KIA officers in Waingmaw battle zone.
The pastor was freed in the evening after being interrogated by the Burmese Army soldiers, said sources close to the pastor.